Headlines: August 4th, 1998

Health Secretary Frank Dobson has told ambulance service managers that the Government wants more joint control rooms and communication systems for the police, fire and ambulance services.

He has already had positive talks to encourage such partnerships with Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, and Hilary Armstrong, the local government Minister.

Speaking at the ambulance service conference AMBEX International 98, Mr Dobson said: “We are putting a stop to the harmful competition and rivalry between different parts of the NHS. Co-operation, partnership and joint working are the way forward. And not just within the NHS -joint working with local councils, local voluntary organisations and businesses. It’s all part of our programme to reform and re-invigorate the NHS.”

“The present dramatic developments in communications are making it necessary to invest in new control rooms and communications systems to make sure both public and staff benefit from state of the art equipment. This investment is needed by all the emergency services. The taxpayer can’t be expected to pay out three times over and we must look for the best deal for all three services.”

He is inviting more ambulance trusts to bid for pilot schemes to test out sharing joint control and communication arrangements with one or both of the other emergency services in their area.

Ambulance services that have already begun collaboration projects with fire services include Wiltshire, Warwickshire, Derbyshire, Northumbria and the West Country.