THE ROW between Bassetlaw MP John Mann and the East Midlands Ambulance Service escalated this week when he accused them of banning staff from a meeting.
The MP has previously been very critical of the service’s proposals to make savings after fears were raised for the future of Worksop and Retford ambulance stations when new plans were put forward by EMAS to reduce its number of stations from 70 to 13 hubs.
This week, after arranging a meeting to discuss the cuts, Mr Mann claimed that paramedics and ambulance staff had been banned by their management from attending and even ‘threatened with the sack’.
“Such tactics are common in North Korea and were used in apartheid South Africa and Burma to stop freedom of speech,” said Mr Mann. “The Ambulance Trust management obviously have a lot to hide. They are using the bully boy tactics of the worlds worst dictators and are in danger of being in contempt of Parliament”.
He continued: “Since the Magna Carta and enshrined in British law, my constituents have a right to unimpeded access to their MP.”
Mr Mann even wrote to the Speaker of Parliament to ‘appraise him of this attack on British democracy’.
However, a spokesman from the East Midlands Ambulance Service said that this simply was not true.
“EMAS are unaware of any meeting that staff have been requested to attend,” he said.
“However, we would like to state that there is absolutely no truth in the suggestion that staff attending such a meeting with Mr Mann would be sacked.”
He continued: “If any member of East Midlands Ambulance Service staff wishes to attend a meeting with their MP, whilst off duty and in their own time, this is their right and they would not be prevented from doing so by any of their line managers or management team.”
Mann has publicly criticised the cuts, worrying that ambulances will have to travel from Mansfield to deal with local emergencies.
“Lives will be put at constant risk,” he said. “This is absolute madness.”
Meanwhile, Leon Duveen from Bassetlaw Lib Dems said: “Instead of being parked in a costly ambulance station, the ambulances will be parked elsewhere around the District. They will offer the same service and same target response times.”
EMAS argue that the changes will ‘improve patient care and staff working lives’.
The proposals have now gone into consultation, which is is set to last from September - November.