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The petition ‘The Air Ambulances to be government funded’ closed on 6 November 2019 and received 134,143 signatures.[1]

The petition set out the following:

  • The air ambulances that operate around the UK cost around £12,000 per day to run and maintain, and are mainly funded through charity organisations. This petition is to ask the Government to fully fund the air ambulances through the emergency services.[2]

The Government responded to the petition on 3 July 2019:

  • Air ambulance services are not NHS funded and are provided by 18 charitable organisations across England, with the majority of their resources supported by their own fundraising activities.
  • We recognise that Air Ambulances provide a valuable service, including to remote locations through both delivery of a specialist team to an incident, and patient transportation back to treatment centres. Air Ambulance crews treat people in critical conditions who rely on urgent treatment before they can reach a hospital. They support the wider NHS emergency response on the ground, ensuring patients get specialised care in both urban settings and hard-to-reach rural areas.
  • Many Ambulance Trusts across England currently work in partnership with Air Ambulance providers from the commercial and charity sectors to deliver services. NHS England works closely with Air Ambulance charities at a local level as part of their considerations of the urgent and emergency care mix in different areas of the country. The NHS Long Term Plan will improve emergency care for all patients, including those treated by Air Ambulances charities.
  • Since April 2002, the NHS has been instructed to provide and fund the cost of some staff on a number of Air Ambulances. However, as decisions on the provision of services for the safe delivery of care are best made at a local level, the level of funding support varies from charity to charity; some charities fully fund their own medical staff on their ambulance, whilst others receive more NHS funding support. Both the type of service provided, and the level of funding support will be driven by local issues such as geography and demography. There are high capital and revenue costs associated with helicopter emergency medical services, including purchasing and maintaining helicopter provision.
  • However, we have made provisions for substantial funding support in this and previous budgets to help ensure that Air Ambulance charities are equipped to provide lifesaving care to patients in need. This year, Air Ambulance charities across England have been invited to bid for a share of £10 million capital funding to invest in new equipment and upgrade facilities to support them in delivering services to patients across England.
  • The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Air Ambulances (APPGAA) is a group of MPs and peers dedicated to highlighting issues and opportunities around Air Ambulance services with policy makers. We will continue to work closely with the sector to ensure patients continue to benefit from these services. Essential public donations, combined with periodic funding contributions from the Government, will ensure these charities can have world-class facilities to match their reputation for world-class care, through a patient-centred approach which works for the population they serve.[3]

Air Ambulances UK represents the UK’s 21 air ambulance charities and wider air ambulance sector. The organisation estimates that “every day across the UK air ambulance charities collectively undertake around 70 lifesaving missions” and approximately 25,000 a year.[4]

[1], Petitions: The Air Ambulances to be government funded (259892)

[2], Petitions: The Air Ambulances to be government funded (259892)

[3], Petitions: The Air Ambulances to be government funded (259892)

[4]     Air Ambulances UK, Saving lives: Top 10 Facts, Accessed on 21 April 2021

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