Air ambulance could cover extra county

EAST Anglia's air ambulance could be covering an extra county in the future, it emerged today.Talks are under way about the possibility of extending the service to cover Bedfordshire as well as the three counties it usually serves -Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.

EAST Anglia's air ambulance could be covering an extra county in the future, it emerged today.

Talks are under way about the possibility of extending the service to cover Bedfordshire as well as the three counties it usually serves -Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.

While it would mean covering an extra 470 square miles it would also mean the charity could afford to run a second helicopter on a permanent basis, and health bosses claim it would not disadvantage patients.

Simon Gray, executive director of the East Anglian Air Ambulance, said: “Our own research indicates that an expansion into Bedfordshire would enable us to provide an even higher level of service and to give even more people access to it.”

Mr Gray said the expansion would be dependent on the charity being able to raise enough money to keep a second helicopter flying.

He said: “We are hopeful that the people of Bedfordshire will come forward with a good percentage of this but we are loathe to lose any of the support that we enjoy from people in the three counties we already serve and that's why we are carrying out this extensive consultation.”

Most Read

Letters have been sent to all of the 20,000 supporters of the charity's lottery service and Mr Gray said around 95 per cent of the responses have been positive so far.

Currently, Anglia One, the main East Anglian air ambulance, serves a population of 2.5 million and the charity can only afford to operate Anglia Two, its second aircraft, at busy times.

Additional funding from Bedfordshire would enable the charity to run both helicopters all the time with the aircraft being sited at opposite ends of the four counties. The two helicopters would then serve a population of 3.2 million across the four counties.

At the moment the charity already responds to incidents on the Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire border and receives some extra funding for this.

A full consultation on the proposals will be held throughout this month and a decision will be made in January 2007.

Do you think expanding the service is a good idea? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk >

WEBLINK: For more details on the consultation see: www.angliaone.org.uk

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter