Sunday, January 07, 2007

It's a complicated life

According to The Sun a London man has died after two ambulance crews could not be sent to his aid - because they were on EU-enforced lunch breaks.

The man collapsed in a betting shop, five minutes from his local ambulance station but the two teams there were on their break so a paramedic was sent in a car from the more distant Enfield station. When he arrived, he realised that the 73-year-old man – as yet unnamed – was having a heart attack. He called for an ambulance but, by the time it arrived, the man was dead.

On the face of it, this is another of those dreadful EU stories – the potential effect of which The Sun warned about last December.

But, it seems, other ambulance services have opted out of the Working Time Regulations, on the basis of an exclusion for where their duties "inevitably conflict" with the provisions of the Regulations.

Then one finds that the public sector union Unison argues that the duties of its members working within the police service, ambulance service and fire service do not conflict with the Regulations. So this begins to look more like union idiocy than the EU.

But then you read two detailed comments from ambulance workers, here and here, the perspective changes again. The problem then seems to have a great deal to do with the combination of a "penny pinching" new working contract in the NHS called "Agenda for Change" and the bureaucratic inflexibility of the system.

What started out as a quickie "shock! horror! probe!" story about the EU thus gets bogged down in all sorts of complications. The one thing you can say with certainty though is that the death of this man was not the result - directly at least - of "EU-enforced lunch breaks".

But I do wish we could be like the MSM. We could then ignore all the complicated details and go for the quick, easy kill – heedless of the fact that the story is wrong.


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