Chief executives of soon-to-be defunct ambulance trusts have given the government just weeks to resolve their positions or face legal action.

Chief executives of soon-to-be defunct ambulance trusts have given the government just weeks to resolve their positions or face legal action.

The number of ambulance trusts is due to be cut from 29 to 11 on 1 July.

But chief executives who were not named as leaders of their successor bodies have not been given formal notice of redundancy or any indication of what their roles will be in the successor organisations.

The Department of Health is insisting that all chief executives who remain employed on this date will transfer to the new organisations. But most are reluctant or refusing to do so on legal grounds, according to the union Managers in Partnership, which is representing six of the chief executives.

The DoH this week confirmed that it had not identified jobs for around 10 chief executives who had not been given charge of new organisations.

Coventry and Warwickshire Ambulance trust chief executive Malcolm Hazell last week described the situation as a 'shambles'.

'Given that we are three weeks away from merging what is the most mission-critical element of the NHS, this is garbage isn't it'

'We wouldn't treat our cleaners like this so why are we treating what are meant to be our most valuable assets in this way?'

Mr Hazell, who has been chief executive of the three-star trust for nine years, told HSJ he would refuse to take up any other post at the new trust.

'My position is as the chief executive of an NHS trust which is the accountable officer on behalf of the secretary of state. Those are my terms and conditions. They are terminating that role and therefore that is a breach of contract.'

Managers in Partnership chief executive Jon Restell said the majority of chief executives affected did not intend to move to the merged trusts.

'They don?t see what roles at their level will exist within the new structures and are not clear what those structures are.

'At the moment we are seeking to resolve all questions around individuals and if we cannot do this through dialogue we would have to consider our legal options,' said Mr Restell.

'It needs to be resolved in the next few weeks,' he insisted.

'It has been a rushed job without enough concern for the people who aren't being carried through to the new organisation. More effort was made in looking after people in primary care trusts in comparison.'

A DoH spokesperson said strategic health authorities were in discussion with the chief executives about the next steps and 'every effort' was being made to find them alternative employment.

Good practice guidance on applying a consistent approach to staff during organisational change is due to be published by NHS Employers soon.