Stephen Barclay MP Praises Air Ambulances

11th November 2017

A reception held by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Air Ambulances (APPGAA) took place on the House of Commons Terrace, Westminster on 31 October 2017. The event, hosted by Chairman of the APPGAA Jim Fitzpatrick MP for Poplar and Limehouse, gave members of both Houses of Parliament the opportunity to meet with representatives from air ambulance charities and ambulance services.

Jim began proceedings by explaining how privileged he was to be able to conduct the Chairman’s role and praised the fact that 19 air ambulance charities were in attendance.  This, together with a turnout from five Ambulance Services and over 140 MP’s made this years’ APPGAA reception, the best yet.

He then introduced Hanna Sebright, Chair of the Association of Air Ambulances who spoke with eloquence on the three main key issues that air ambulances face at the current time.

Hanna said: “Trauma is a disease of time.  For the Chain of Survival to succeed, all the facets of the trauma response and its treatment must be optimal. Where distances are great, time can be saved by using medical helicopters providing that hospitals have suitable helipads.  Whilst many do, there are many others that are located too far away from the Emergency Department or have restricted access for night flights, thereby creating prolonged transfer times affecting critically ill and injured patients.  We are needing support from our NHS Hospital Trusts, led by the Department of Health and NHS England, to invest in helipad infrastructure across the UK and to improve accessibility for night time landings.  This way, patient care is not compromised.

“In the future, air ambulance operators may be affected by new rules imposed by the European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) with regards to flight time limitations and crew flight fatigue.  We absolutely embrace the safeguarding of our crew members, yet today we are not clear what impact, if any, a future ruling by EASA will have on our air ambulance paramedics and doctors.  We are seeking clarification on how this may affect air ambulance operations across the UK and ask to be kept informed ahead of any changes being enforced.

“Whilst the AAA welcomes an enhanced air to ground communications system, delays are causing our members cause for concern.  We are seeking reassurance from the Home Office that the Emergency Services will only transition when we are satisfied with the new network and any increased costs involved will not impact on the HEMS community”

Finally, Hanna thanked Jim Fitzpatrick MP and the Government for the support shown to air ambulance charities both last year and in previous years via grants from banking fines (LIBOR) which have enabled many of them to improve their services.

Jim Fitzpatrick MP then introduced Stephen Barclay, MP for North East Cambridgeshire and 1st Secretary of the Treasury who took time to pay tribute to the work of air ambulances across the UK.

Stephen said: “On behalf of the Government, I would like to pay tribute to you all. The fact that so many MPs are present today underlines the importance and attachment they have to the air ambulance services, and the work you do is appreciated by the whole House.  We saw it first hand during the Westminster attack, with the speed of response and training of the London air ambulance in Parliament Square.

“The Treasury recognises the importance of keeping these services going. That is why it allocated £10.8 million last year from the LIBOR fund, and has granted a total of £35 million from the same fund since 2013.

“Jim Fitzpatrick is a fantastic champion of the work of air ambulances through the APPGAA and is well respected by colleagues.  Thank you all for the work you do, which we really value.”

The AAA, which represents the majority of air ambulance charities, ambulance services and the supply chain throughout the UK, supported the reception for the fifth year, bringing patients, charities, ambulance services and legislators together.

More information on the APPGAA, Association of Air Ambulances and the air ambulance community can be found by visiting:

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