Statement from AAA

Air ambulance charities across the country are warning that the launch of a new air ambulance operation could lead to a reduction in air ambulance provision and public confusion.

The concerns are raised in advance of the launch of a national children’s air ambulance based in the Midlands.

The Association of Air Ambulances, which represents the majority of air ambulance charities and ambulance services throughout the UK, says the proposed service is a retrieval service based on the current Paediatric Retrieval Service provided by the NHS.  It is not an emergency service unlike all other air ambulance operations.

AAA Director, Clive Dickin, said: “There is currently no clinical evidence to support the provision of an enhanced service above the one already provided through public funding.  Whilst the current service does very occasionally request a patient to be airlifted, it always uses the established network of air ambulances, military aircraft or private air ambulances.

“The proposed Children’s Air Ambulance (CAA) is to be based at Coventry Airport.  While this is a central location, to use this aircraft to transfer a seriously ill child from say Somerset to London, the Coventry based aircraft would have pass over five existing air ambulance aircraft, which simply does not make sense from either a time or cost perspective.

“For over 20 years, air ambulances have provided a highly regarded and professional service across the UK doing emergency and retrieval work.  Working closely with their local NHS ambulance service, air ambulances are tasked on a daily basis to respond to a variety of incidents, including paediatric referral cases. 

“The clinical need for a dedicated air transport system is being reviewed by the Association’s Clinical Sub Committee, but to date, no clinical need for this new service has been identified. 

“What is also worrying is that the pre-advertising of this service as a ‘national’ one has led to confusion amongst members of the public which will ultimately almost certainly lead to a drop in fundraising for all charities.

Missions completed since 1991: 49,869 | On average we airlift a child every four days | Road traffic collisions make up around 35% of the incidents we attend | The service airlifts up to three horse riders each week.