'We're delighted' - Multi-million pound boost for region's air ambulance charities
PUBLISHED: 17:27 19 July 2019 | UPDATED: 17:59 19 July 2019
Air ambulance charities in the East of England have secured a huge slice of government funding to support their life-saving work.
The three charities, which serve Suffolk and Essex alongside other Eastern counties, will share just over a third of the £10million grant from the Department of Health and Social Care.
Split between the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA), Essex & Herts Air Ambulance (EHAAT), and Magpas Air Ambulance, a total of £3.6m will go towards a brand new helipad and aircraft hangar, upgraded night-vision goggles, additional rapid response vehicles, and a host of other key life-saving facilities.
EAAA has secured almost £800,000 of the funding pot, which it intends to invest in a variety of on-going projects - including the renovation of the charity's base, to enable its helicopter to fly 24 hours a day, seven days a week from 2020.
Patrick Peal, CEO, said: "Although air ambulance charities are primarily community-funded, relying on the general public for millions of pounds every year to keep the helicopters flying, these one-off government grants for capital projects - such as for improvements to our bases and the purchase of rapid response vehicles - are a huge boost to our work and enable us to get these big, one-off projects moving much quicker.
"It's great to see that so much of this government funding has been spent in the East of England and will make a huge difference to the level of emergency medical care available in the region."
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Meanwhile, EHAAT took home £1.5m of the funding, which it hopes to invest in the charity's brand new airbase in Essex.
Jane Gurney, CEO, said: "We are delighted to receive this contribution from the government.
"It will mean that some of the funds initially put aside for our new premises at North Weald can now be used to help develop and improve the life-saving service we provide for patients. We value the support of the communities we serve and are thankful for their continued support."
A spokeswoman for Magpas, which received £1.34m of the funding, added: "This vital project brings together the specialist skills of an outstanding air ambulance charity and an NHS emergency department; in order to save more lives by improving the emergency infrastructure, therefore enabling patients to be given critical lifesaving care, more quickly, improving their chances of survival."
Air ambulance critical emergency services are not funded by the NHS, relying instead on charitable donations from the public.
Health minister Stephen Hammond said: "Air ambulance crews work under extreme pressure in situations where every second counts.
"This one-off funding to help provide world-class facilities and equipment recognises the integral role they play in our health service.
"Air ambulance charities rely heavily on generous donations from members of the public and typical fundraising activities for their life-saving work and they deserve our enormous gratitude."