A reception held by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Air Ambulances (APPGAA) took place on the House of Commons Terrace, Westminster on 10 June 2019. The event, hosted by Chairman of the APPGAA Robert Courts MP, gave members of both Houses of Parliament the opportunity to meet with representatives from air ambulance charities and ambulance services.
A total of 152 attendees came together and used the opportunity to highlight and discuss some of the key issues that affect the sector. Robert began proceedings by saying what an extraordinary sector that air ambulances are. He said: “It is my honour to be here not only as an MP, but also as the Chair of the APPGAA. It’s obvious to see the incredible affection and renown with which air ambulances are held, by the turnout of MPs here today. What an incredible tribute to the innovation of the sector which is provided through fundraising that you undertake day in, day out. You are so much more than a swoop and scoop service, delivering the ground-breaking task of bringing the hospital to the roadside or rural area where someone may need help.” Robert went on to highlight the Association of Air Ambulances (AAA) five key issues which are: Helicopter Landing Facilities, Patient Data/Outcome Information and Risk Management Support, the Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme, Limits on Society Lotteries and Flight Time Limitations for Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) crew members.
He then introduced Andrew Bowie, MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine and Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Prime Minister who began by saying what a pleasure it was to speak to a community that does so much to help people in their time of need. Andrew said:
“Across the UK, the work of Air Ambulances is essential and saves countless lives. You should be immensely proud of the contribution you give to society. More than a group of charities, or a trade organisation, you are a community and it is that community spirit which
sets the Air Ambulance sector apart from others. A collaboration of charities working together to improve the patient experience and you do that through impeccable governance, compliance and your relationships with communities across the country.
You are at the forefront of pre-hospital care, saving lives where often no one else would be able to even reach the patient, with 39 helicopters on call, at all hours of the day and over 50 support vehicles on hand to support the delivery of your world-class care.
Not only are you a brilliant example to Air Ambulance sectors across the world, but you are a great example of how to run a charity. You are an Association of visionary charities, always striving to better yourselves and as a result, better the community. No one does Air Ambulances like the UK, you are a shining example to the world. The Government supports you and your work, so let us use today to celebrate all your successes and say thank you for your work and everything you do.”
Finally, Patrick Peal, Vice-Chairman of the AAA concluded proceedings by thanking those who attended. He focussed his speech on the topic of transformation and said: “Surprisingly it is only 30 years ago that the first air ambulance started in Cornwall. Now there are 21 air ambulance charitable services in the UK. Our mission since then has totally transformed thanks to the addition in the last decade of doctors with advanced skills and specialist pre-hospital emergency medicine training joining our teams. So, we are no longer just a flying road ambulance, but a flying accident and emergency department. The first night HEMS mission took place approximately five years ago and some air ambulance services are now delivering critical care 24 hours a day. First aid and CPR are such an important factor and we welcome the Government’s commitment to put CPR on the school curriculum in late 2020. We are keen to do what we can to ensure that this is successful; some air ambulance charities have now created after care teams, following up on patients in hospital to offer support and help them on their road to recovery to return to everyday life. Data analysis to improve patient outcomes is now beginning to make its presence felt. Air Ambulances deploy some of the very best clinicians, using very advanced equipment and transport them in state-of-the-art helicopters and road vehicles to some of the most demanding situations you could imagine. These situations place great demands on our teams and require great emotional strength and compassion. Therefore, we are also transforming the way we care for our colleagues and a great deal of work is being done
around issues of mental health and resilience. Where else can you find a group of charities operating nationwide, helping each other, sharing best practice and ideas and really making sure we all do the best for every patient.” The AAA represents the majority of air ambulance charities, a number of ambulance services and the supply chain of support services throughout the UK. The AAA supported the reception for the seventh 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: https://www.aoaa.org.uk