Air ambulance charities invited to bid for share of £10m moneypot

Health Minister launches initiative to upgrade equipment and facilities for emergency care

The £10m will support capital investment in the country's air ambulance services

Health Minister, Stephen Hammond, has unveiled a £10m fund to upgrade equipment and facilities for air ambulance services.

Services are currently not NHS funded but are provided by 18 charitable organisations across England, with most of their resources supported by their own fundraising activities.

But they will now be able to bid for additional funding specifically to support capital projects.

Air ambulance charities are a vital lifeline for people in critical conditions who rely on urgent treatment before they can reach a hospital

This could include buying state-of-the-art medical equipment for critical care teams; modernising helicopters and helipads; increasing the number of missions flown; or extending the hours services are available. The cash could also enable charities to hire more skilled staff.

Each charity will be able to bid for up to £2m of grant funding and they will also be able to partner with NHS trusts to make joint bids, for example to modernise helipads that are owned by hospital trusts.

The call for bids, developed in collaboration with the Air Ambulance Association, asks air ambulance charities to present proposals to fund projects.

The Department of Health and Social Care will then prioritise applications that deliver clear benefits to patients, while ensuring value for money for the taxpayer.

Applications close on 8 March and funding will be allocated in April this year.

Generous donations from the public help keep air ambulances in the air and this £10m will help to ensure they’re equipped to provide lifesaving care to patients in need

Hammond said: “Air ambulance charities are a vital lifeline for people in critical conditions who rely on urgent treatment before they can reach a hospital.

“Generous donations from the public help keep air ambulances in the air and this £10m will help to ensure they’re equipped to provide lifesaving care to patients in need.”

Paula Martin, chairman of the Association of Air Ambulances, added: “It’s a very-exciting time for the air ambulance community and the opportunity to bid for a grant to help enable significant capital projects is very welcome.”

But he said: “While public purse funding being made available for the first time is very exciting, the operating cost for every air ambulance charity and the lifesaving work that it does continues to be entirely dependent on public donations and traditional fundraising.

“Air ambulance charities in England are poised to submit a diverse range of applications to help fund capital projects which will deliver good value for money and, most importantly, benefit the patients and communities they serve.”

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