Air Ambulances UK launches 2024 general election manifesto

Air Ambulances UK (AAUK), the national charity supporting the lifesaving work of the UK’s air ambulance charities, is calling upon all UK political parties, MPs, Government bodies and Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) to pledge their support for critical policy initiatives ahead of the forthcoming General Election.

With 21 independent air ambulance charities operating across the UK, air ambulance crews bring the Emergency Department to patients who have suffered a life threatening or life changing trauma or medical emergency; providing advanced critical care to save lives.

These crews provide advanced critical care, often arriving at the scene within an average of 16 minutes, ensuring prompt and effective specialist intervention for patients in need.

In 2021, the collective missions undertaken by air ambulance charities across the UK totalled over 30,100, reflecting the indispensable role these services play in emergency lifesaving critical care. In 2023, the demand surged by 53%, with over 46,000 missions undertaken, illustrating the growing need for support and resources to sustain these lifesaving operations in local communities.

Simultaneously, the average cost of air ambulance helicopter missions in the UK increased by 4% in 2023, highlighting the increased costs faced by these vital charities. As such, Air Ambulances UK, in collaboration with Air Ambulances UK Member Charities, is advocating for four policy pledges to address these challenges effectively:

Pledge 1:

Pledge to ensure that all new and existing UK Major Trauma Centres and specialist hospitals (such as cardiac centres) have 24/7 accessible on-site primary hospital helipads.
Assist Local Planning Authorities in developing a specialised safeguarding process to protect UK-wide hospital helipads against adverse effects from planning and developments.

Establish an efficient consultation pathway to proactively engage Air Ambulances UK and air ambulance charities in strategic planning discussions, concerning hospital helipads and community landing sites in the UK.

Pledge 2:

Pledge to secure safe access to NHS patient data for air ambulance charities to enable them to gain further insight into the full patient pathway and ultimately the patient outcome.

Pledge 3:

Pledge to support the air ambulance community to enhance methods of income generation through distribution of UK-wide grants and capital funding, ensuring that air ambulance charities can operate effectively with equitable service provision to continue to meet the surge in demand and increased operational costs.

Pledge 4:

Pledge to opposing the proposed statutory levy of 0.1% of ‘gross gambling yield’ (GGY) on lotteries. Advocate for a zero rate of statutory levy for lotteries and a continuation of the current system of voluntary contributions, in recognition of the unique contribution lotteries make to charitable causes, such as air ambulances.

Simmy Akhtar, CEO of Air Ambulances UK, said:

“Air Ambulances UK is dedicated to ensuring that every individual across the UK receives the lifesaving care they deserve during times of crisis. As the demand for air ambulance services continues to rise, it’s imperative that we advocate for policies that support the dedicated crews and air ambulance charities. Our four policy pledges aim to address critical challenges faced by air ambulance charities, empowering them to save even more lives each day. Together, with the support of political parties and prospective parliamentary candidates, we can make a difference. Every pledge represents a step towards a safer, more resilient future for all our communities.”

As the General Election approaches, Air Ambulances UK urges all political stakeholders to prioritise the support and enhancement of air ambulance charities, enabling them to continue saving lives and remain at the forefront of pre-hospital emergency care.

For more information and to read the full 2024 General Election Manifesto for the UK Air Ambulance Sector, visit here.

** All air ambulance charities are independent with differing operational model(s) and so figures/data within this report are averages. The cost of mission varies depending on geography, patient need, clinical and operational models of the local air ambulance charity. All data is based on the year of 2023. **

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