New funding for UK air ambulances

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Air ambulance charities in England, UK, have been invited to bid for a share of up to £2 million of a total £10 million grant to spend on upgraded equipment and facilities.

In England, air ambulance services are not National Health Service (NHS)-funded, and so each relies on its own fundraising in order to cover resources and operating costs. Air ambulance crews are often required to carry out emergency response and critical care missions for serious conditions at the scene of an incident – usually involving treatment given in hospital settings, such as blood transfusions and open-chest surgery. They support the wider NHS emergency response on the ground, ensuring patients receive specialised care in both urban settings and hard-to-reach rural areas.

The grant can be used for a range of resources, including state-of-the-art medical equipment for critical care teams, modernising helicopters and helipads, increasing the number of missions flown or extending the hours services are available and expanding operational facilities to allow them to hire more highly skilled staff. The charities are also invited to make joint bids with NHS Trusts, should they wish to modernise helipads owned by the hospital trust, for example.

UK Health Minister Stephen Hammond, who believes that ‘air ambulance charities are a vital life-line for people in critical conditions’, said: “Generous donations from the public help keep air ambulances in the air and this £10 million will help to ensure that they’re equipped to provide life-saving care to patients in need.”

Chairman of the Association of Air Ambulances Paula Martin explained the application criteria: “Air ambulance charities in England are poised to submit a diverse range of applications to help fund capital projects which will deliver good value for money and most importantly benefit the patients and communities they serve.” The Department of Health and Social Care will prioritise applications that deliver clear benefits to patients, while ensuring value for money for the taxpayer.

Martin added: “It’s a very exciting time for the air ambulance community and the opportunity to bid for a grant to help enable significant capital projects is very welcome. Whilst public purse funding being made available for the first time is very exciting, the operating cost for every air ambulance charity and the lifesaving work that it does continues to be entirely dependent on public donations and traditional fundraising.”

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