Eleven of the UK’s air ambulance charities have announced that they will be receiving a share of £10.8 million allocated by Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond from the LIBOR Fund, made up of banking fines, for air ambulance operations. The announcement was made on 23 November as part of the Chancellor’s autumn statement.
The money will be divided equally, meaning that each charity will receive just under £1 million. The Association of Air Ambulances (AAA), which represents the majority of UK air ambulance providers, said that the allocation ‘once again shows support for those who demonstrate the best values of British society from fines of those who demonstrated the worst’.
Clive Dicken, AAA national director added: “We are delighted with the Chancellor’s announcement today and thank him for giving 11 air ambulance charities significant support. These sums of money will absolutely enhance life-saving pre-hospital emergency care across the UK.”
The 11 providers that are set to benefit are: Cornwall Air Ambulance Trust, Devon Air Ambulance, Great North Air Ambulance Service, Great Western Air Ambulance, Kent Surrey Sussex Air Ambulance, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance, MAGPAS Air Ambulance, Midlands Air Ambulance, The Air Ambulance Service, Wales Air Ambulance (WAA) and Wiltshire Air Ambulance.
WAA has been one of the services to speak about the funding, and has announced it will be using the money to increase flying hours and put into action its plans for night operations.
“It’s the charity’s vision to become a 24-hour operation, and this donation from the LIBOR fund takes us a step closer to reaching that goal,” WAA chief executive Angela Hughes said. “Our bid set out how a donation from LIBOR would help us to set up a fully-functional night operation for the whole of Wales, enabling us to carry out paediatric, neonatal and adult missions onboard our aircraft. We’re delighted to have secured £1 million, which will cover one third of our costs for night flight planning.”
Devon Air Ambulance will also be using the money to facilitate night landings.
“We are now flying into the hours of darkness. We have been working hard with the community since January to build a network of community night landing sites. These sites are pre-surveyed and have state-of-the-art technology with remote switching to turn on and off the lights at scene,” Nigel Hare, operations director of Devon Air Ambulance said. “Communities have very much taken ownership of their own landing site, not only funding them but also undertaking to ensure they are kept in good order. Even though the communities would still need to raise the funds to buy the equipment, the grant would be available to fund the cost of installing the flood lighting.”
The charity says it will be able to open 300 community landing sites with the money.