Irish air ambulance funding reassessed

An air ambulance lands at the helipad at Omagh Enhanced Hospital. Copyright © Kenneth Allen

Northern Irish County Fermanagh Councillors have announced that the Air Ambulance Northern Ireland charity can no longer rely on public fundraising to maintain its services, suggesting that the Department of Health and Northern Ireland Ambulance Service need to take responsibility for some of the operating costs.

Following a council meeting, it emerged that the Air Ambulance Northern Ireland’s reliance on public fundraising was ‘unacceptable for such an essential service’, according to UUP Councillor Alex Baird. He argued: “The Department of Health and Northern Ireland Ambulance Service should now fund much of its annual running costs to ensure the long-term provision and sustainability of the vital service.”

Councillor Mark Buchanan said: “With one of the largest rural land masses, we as a Council know only too well the important role our life-saving services play in preserving life across our Council area.” Buchanan added that the air ambulance service has been deployed five times across the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council area alone since August 2017, and that running costs total around £2 million a year.

Buchanan praised those who raised money for the air ambulance, but he noted that it was inappropriate that such an important and life-saving service should be entirely reliant on public donations. “I would suggest that this would be a much fairer, more sensible and appropriate way forward if we are to secure the long-term provision of this essential service.”

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