Ambulance chiefs last night admitted that trained volunteer responders in Staffordshire have been using prescription drugs on emergency patients illegally.
Anthony Marsh, chief executive of West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS), and Geoff Catling, acting chief executive of the Staffordshire Ambulance Service, met councillors for a special health scrutiny meeting of Stafford Borough Council to discuss their concerns over the future of Staffordshire Service.
Last month community first responders (CFRs), who attend 999 calls across the county, had seven life saving drugs withdrawn from their use.
CFR groups are now campaigning for three of these drugs – GTN, Entonox and Salbutamol – to be reintroduced.
They are used to relieve pain and are given in the event of asthma, angina or heart attacks.
The legality of their use was first questioned in July by Dr Neil Abeysinghe of Staffordshire Ambulance Service in a letter to the Medicines Health Care Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA), which confirmed CFRs could access and administer the drugs.
Ambulance crews have a national target of 19 minutes in which to answer all 999 calls and Mr Marsh said community first responders could sometimes wait up to 11 minutes for a paramedic team to arrive and assist.
When Coun Debbie Wakefield, the chairman elect, asked if the service had been operating illegally and doing so for a number of years, the WMAS chief executive said "yes and yes".
Mr Marsh said: "Frankly, our governance is inadequate".