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, including here in Devon, 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.

An indispensable national service

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 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 future 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 oppose 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, emphasised the importance of these pledges, stating:

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.

Support from Devon MPs

Members of Devon Air Ambulance Senior Leadership Team recently attended a reception at Westminster where all Devon MP’s were invited to come along and listen to some of the challenges that the charity faces. Mr Simon Jupp MP was one of those who attended and was able to understand the demand for Devon Air Ambulance in his constituency of East Devon where, in 2023, the critical care crew attended 123 patients – 11% of the total number. 

Matthew Bell, Public Engagement Director at Devon Air Ambulance said:

Our charity is already well known for the speed in which our crews can reach the location of an emergency, often arriving within an average of just 15 minutes, but many people don’t realise that our Critical Care Paramedics and Doctors are highly trained to be able to carry out, at the scene, a range of surgical interventions that a patient wouldn’t usually receive until their arrival in a hospital emergency department. Every minute matters when we are called to a patient suffering a potentially life threatening or life-changing injury or illness. We could not do any of this without the fantastic ongoing support of the people of Devon for which we are incredibly grateful. 

Devon Air Ambulance is a charity that exists entirely thanks to the support of the people we serve. If you would like to donate to help us to continue to deliver our lifesaving work across Devon and beyond, we welcome your support.

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