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January 18, 2011

UK e-mail warns against responder with criminal record

By Charlotte Orson
Lincolnshire Echo

LINCOLN, England — A private ambulance has attempted to operate in Lincoln with a crew member known to have a criminal record.

A leaked e-mail sent to East Midlands Ambulance Service's Lincolnshire-based managers at 8.24pm on New Year's Eve, reports that an ambulance belonging to Leeds-based company Ambustar had just turned up at Lincoln Ambulance Station in South Park Avenue.

In the e-mail, acting clinical quality manager Matthew Cooper said the crew informed EMAS bosses that they were there on behalf of EMAS.

Mr Cooper wrote: "If they are seen at any A&E departments, please notify control as soon as possible."

He said one of the crew members was known to have a criminal conviction. He included a description of the ambulance and its call sign.

EMAS spokesman Sally Thearle claimed that Ambustar had not been booked by EMAS, despite the company saying they have a booking reference.

Ms Thearle said: "Given this was the busiest night of the year, with activity likely to spike dramatically, this would explain the tenor of the message.

"I can confirm that we did have a visit from an Ambustar vehicle on December 31.

"However, we do not use Ambustar's services and they are not one of our private service providers.

"I have to stress it is impossible for a private provider to simply turn up and work for us."

The Echo revealed on Friday that EMAS had hired in private ambulances from the company Emergency Response Services International Group Ltd to help deal with a unprecedented workload during recent weeks.

This has been blamed on the icy weather before Christmas and a high number of patients suffering breathing problems and chest pains as a result of the current flu outbreak.

Ms Thearle said: "Our private providers have all been through a rigorous and thorough governance check to ensure they are competent to work for us."

However, a spokesman for Ambustar, who refused to give his name, insisted the company had a booking reference from EMAS.

He said: "We are aware of a conviction from one of our staff members who was under 18 at the time and involved in one drunken encounter in 2003 receiving an £80 fine.

"We feel they have demonstrated to us evidence of good character since and there is no evidence of risk to the public.

"Ambustar treats the safety of patients seriously and do actually undertake checks on staff regularly including clinical competencies.

"We are fully compliant with current regulations."

Copyright 2011 Lincolnshire Echo

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