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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 May, 2003, 16:03 GMT 17:03 UK
Speeding ambulance driver 'doing his job'
Mike Ferguson
Mike Ferguson was taking an organ for transplant
An ambulance driver facing prosecution for speeding while transporting vital transplant organs says he would do the same again.

Mike Ferguson, from Bradford, was rushing a liver from Leeds to Cambridge for an emergency transplant when he was clocked at 104mph.

Crown prosecutors say a vehicle carrying vital transplant organs does not qualify as an ambulance.

But Mr Ferguson told BBC News Online: "I was just doing my job, but the police have a differing point of view."

"I was asked to move an organ as soon as possible - I didn't know the condition of the organ, or the recipient.

Both the West Yorkshire Metropolitan Ambulance Service and GMB union are supporting Mr Ferguson.

Flashing lights

He said: "In reality, if I lose my licence or have a ban then the possibility is that I could lose my job as well."

But when asked if he would repeat his actions if called upon, Mr Ferguson, who has a 36-year unblemished driving record, was categoric.

"Yes. At the moment, I would - while I've got a licence. I'm conscious of the fact I may have saved somebody's life."

Both Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire Police recorded the ambulance speeding on the A1 in the early hours of the morning of 16 January.

Mr Ferguson, a senior ambulance driver, was in an official vehicle with blue lights flashing. Traffic was light and road conditions were understood to be good.

While Cambridgeshire officers have not taken any action, their counterparts in Lincolnshire charged Mr Ferguson.

Dangerous precedent

Alison Kerr, the chief crown prosecutor for Lincolnshire told BBC News Online: "Having looked at all the facts, the CPS believes that this was not a medical emergency, and therefore should be put before the court for them to decide.

"As the law stands a vehicle does not qualify as an ambulance if it is carrying transplant organs."

Union spokesman John Durkin said the case could set a dangerous precedent.

He said: "If certain police forces say that drivers risk prosecution, then do they have the right to say who will survive these life-saving operations?

"I don't want that on my conscience."

Mr Ferguson believes the real losers in the case could be the patients waiting for life-saving operations.

Review urged

He said: "I can't help but feel that it's the UK Transplant Service that could suffer from this.

"I wouldn't dream of speeding unless it was an emergency but with some organ transplants, time really is of the essence.

"I'm not the kind to lose my temper - you've got to be level-headed to do my job - but I wasn't happy when I got the letter saying they were taking me to court."

Unison, the biggest union representing ambulance workers, has called for an urgent review of legislation to take the burden of responsibility off individuals in life-or-death situations.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Richard Bilton
"Many crews here [in Leeds] are concerned about what this case will mean for them"



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