Our supporters sometimes ask us why we are a charity. Why doesn’t the Government step in to help fund the vital life-saving service that we provide to anyone in our community, should the worst happen? It’s an obvious question to ask. A petition calling upon the government to fully fund all air ambulance services has been circulating on social media and the petition will be debated in parliament later this month.
You may be surprised to hear that we are advising our supporters not to sign this petition.
Whilst we understand the sentiment behind the petition, we are acutely aware that we can only continue to put our patients first and remain at the cutting edge of pre-hospital emergency medical care because we are not a hostage to the budget cuts and political agenda that the majority of government funded services have been subject to over recent years. The NHS is under intense and relentless pressure and cuts are being made in all areas. In the current political climate, the future remains uncertain.
In contrast to this, and thanks to the generosity of our local communities, we have been able to continue to develop and expand our service to meet patient demand in our area. In 2017 our first Critical Care Team Vehicle became operational and we now operate three vehicles, providing the same enhanced care as that delivered by the Air Ambulance, but able to get to the more difficult to reach urban areas. At the beginning of 2019 we recruited seven new trainee helicopter emergency medical services paramedics to our Critical Care Teams, bringing our paramedic team from 9 to 16. As a result, in 2019 we have been able to respond to more patients than ever before and for the first six months of the year we were tasked to 1,075 incidents, compared to 662 missions for the same period in the previous year. In July we recorded our busiest month to date with our teams responding to 244 call-outs.
As an independent charity, our service is funded directly by the people we serve and, for that reason, we are accountable to them and their needs come first; we will always put our patients and their care at the heart of our operations. If we were subject to the same constraints as other government-funded essential services, we would routinely face a stark choice between financial sustainability and cutting the services that provide the very best pre-hospital emergency medicine to those in their darkest hour. I never want to have to make those choices on your behalf in the future.
If you would like to help keep your Air Ambulance flying and saving lives, please do visit the Get Involved pages on our website. Our regular giving scheme, Small Change Big Difference, allows us to plan for our future; our Volunteers are the backbone of our charity; and there are many other ways in which you can help ensure sure that we will be there for you today and tomorrow.
Alex Lochrane, CEO