Lives are being put at risk following the withdrawal of seven crucial drugs because of politics behind the Midland ambulance service merger, it has been claimed.

The West Midlands and Staffordshire services have told community first responders (CFRs) – trained volunteers who give medical help – that legislation no longer allows them to use the drugs.

But the former head of Staffordshire Ambulance Service, which faces being merged with its West Midlands counterpart, dismissed the legality issue as a "total red herring".

Roger Thayne, who left earlier this year because of the controversial merger and now runs the Wales Ambulance Service, said: "CFRs play a critical role in saving people's lives, so it's not unrealistic to say that lives are being put at risk as a result of these politics.

"NHS West Midlands are doing this as they don't know any better and are trying to present Staffordshire as a rogue service doing something they think it should not be doing, but that's not the case."

 Anthony Marsh, chief executive of West Midlands Ambulance Service, and Geoff Catling, Staffordshire's acting chief executive, will meet CFR representatives in Stoke-on-Trent tonight to discuss why they can no longer use the medicines to treat asthma, heart problems, epilepsy and pain.

The issue is also due to be raised in the Commons by Lichfield Conservative MP Michael Fabricant who has applied for an emergency debate next week. He said he had no doubt the policy was "a direct consequence of trying to create a network of regional health authorities".

"There will be blood on the hands of these executives who are flying in direct contravention to Tony Blair's assurances that there will be no changes in Staffordshire which would reduce standards of care," said Mr Fabricant.

Staffordshire's 350 CFRs were equipped with 13 life-saving drugs but an internal review concluded they were not qualified to use Atrovent, Diazepam Stesoloid, Entonox, GTN, Midazolam (Buccal), Pulmicort and Salbutamol.

John Jones, treasurer of the Association of Staffordshire Community First Responders, added: "Some of our responders feel they're in an impossible position and may not go to calls if they can't help patients."

Robert Lake, the trust's chairman, claimed the decision was made following advice from NHS West Midlands Strategic Health Authority.

Mr Lake said: "Regional SHA pharmacists and the West Midlands SHA chief executive said they are not covered, in law, to administer the seven drugs in question, we had no option but to withdraw them." Last night an NHS West Midlands spokesman said: "Following expert advice, the trust has, as a precautionary measure, withdrawn the use of seven of the drugs."

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