The four ambulance services in the West Midlands face the axe under plans to create one giant regional body.

The West Midlands has four ambulance trusts - Coventry & Warwickshire; Hereford & Worcester; Staffordshire, and West Midlands Ambulance Service, which covers Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country.

But these will be replaced by a single service under proposals drawn up by local health authorities.

They have been sent to councils, MPs and patient forums as part of a "pre-consultation".


Security has been stepped up at a Midland oil refinery as protesters plan to stage demonstrations against fuel price rises on Wednesday.

Warwickshire Police said it was ready to deal with any demonstrations at Kingsbury terminal near Tamworth, which was the scene of blockades during the fuel protests in 2000.

The latest demonstrations are being led by a Durham farmer and haulier Andrew Spence, who has called on people to protest outside oil refineries in a bid to persuade the Government to cut tax on fuel.

Mike Farmer, from the Road Hauliers Association, said the organisation was not involved in the direct action.

He said: "We are concentrating on lobbying the Government at the moment. There are a number of people who are trying to get protests off the ground but that is all we know."


Real ale campaign group CAMRA has named a West Midlands pub as one of the best in the country.

The Jolly Crispin in Upper Gornal, near Dudley, is one of only 16 public houses singled out by the organisation for the quality of its ale and its ambience.

But while praising the pub, CAMRA seized the opportunity to criticise regional brewing giants Greene King and Wolverhampton & Dudley as a "threat to drinkers' choice".


Conservatives running Birmingham City Council have been accused of favouring community-based projects in the Tory heartland of Sutton Coldfield at the expense of poorer districts.

The claim was levelled by Ian Ward, deputy leader of the council Labour group, who said it was unfair that more than #1 million from the local services capital budget had been allocated to Sutton while only #146,000 was available for Hodge Hill.

He claimed the distribution of funding reflected bias towards Sutton Coldfield - where the four wards are represented by 12 Tory councillors, comprising just under half of the Conservative group.


Everyday objects used frequently in hospitals such as pens, patient notes and computer keyboards could be helping the spread of the MRSA superbug, an expert has warned.

A study by University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust found charts, case notes, bins, pens and keyboards on an intensive care unit were contaminated with MRSA.

Researchers also found the bug lurking on staff aprons and on their hands.

Patients in intensive care are most at risk from hospital-acquired infections, which kill at least 5,000 people a year in the UK.

Dr Peter Wilson, a consultant microbiologist at UCLH, outlined his research on how the hospital environment contributes to MRSA transmission at the Health Protection Agency's annual conference at the University of Warwick.

Read more about these stories in Wednesday's Birmingham Post