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April 26th, 2002

Ambulances under threat
– New EU rule puts emergency service in jeopardy
St John Ambulance is facing a financial crisis as a new European regulation will force them to replace their emergency vehicles within the next 18 months.  …  The introduction of the new EU directive will mean huge costs for the organisation as it attempts to comply with them, placing a huge financial burden on its resources.
Western Morning News, 26 April 2002, page 22)

Regular readers will remember that a similar story concerning ambulances featured in the last issue of Press Watch.  And the facts haven’t changed.  The European Union is still being blamed for something it is not responsible for.  There is no EU legislation that will force St John Ambulance or the National Health Service to replace their emergency vehicles. 
If the Western Morning News had done their research, they would have realised that this was confirmed as long ago as 25 May 2000 by Gisela Stuart MP, the then junior health minister, in a written answer to a question from Sir Teddy Taylor on the subject:
“Following a period of consultation with manufacturers and users, two new European standards for ambulance vehicles and their equipment were recommended by the ‘Comite Europeen de Normalisation’ (CEN) in August and September [1999].  Membership of CEN is wider than European Union member states and their recommendations have force only through the Public Procurement Legislative Programme.  The object of this programme is to reduce technical barriers to trade throughout the European Free Trade Area.  The British Standards Institute adopted the CEN recommendations as national standards in January 2000 but these will only apply to new ambulance vehicles and their equipment purchased after that date.”
In addition, according to the St John Ambulance website, their branches in other parts of the country seem to have accepted the new recommendations: “In line with our National Vehicle Policy, we are gradually replacing ageing vehicles in order to comply with British Standards in terms of design, construction and livery.”
A bit of effort from the journalist concerned would have prevented the article from being given such a misleading slant.

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Please note that all statements in all entries were correct on the date of publication given. However, older archived posts are not systematically updated in the light of later developments, for example changes to EU law.

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