ON this front page from February 20, 1979, a Blackburn consultant launched a scathing attack on on East Lancashire ambulances for refusing to man the health service's flying squad unit.

Doctor David Murray, a consultant anaesthetist with Blackburn District Hospitals at the time, warned that the ambulances decision to support the mobile intensive unit was dangerous as it meant patients could not get there.

However, the men were supported by a county union official , who said they were taking a lenient stance compared with other parts of the country.

But, Doctor Murray said: "While it is not in my power to negotiate with the ambulance service, it is my duty to make it known to the public what the effect of this action will be."

"The mobile intensive care unit makes the journey from home to the intensive care unit much less hazardous than it normally is.

A spokesman for the National Union of Public Employees, said: "It's all right for consultants on £10,000 a year to talk like this, but I would say people in Blackburn are no worse off for ambulance cover than anywhere else in the country."

The town was divided on the issue.