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Air ambulance supporters celebrating

PUBLISHED: 05:28 29 March 2002 | UPDATED: 11:38 03 March 2010

AIR ambulance supporters are celebrating after the Government agreed that health authorities should pay for paramedic crew, instead of raiding charity coffers.

AIR ambulance supporters are celebrating after the Government agreed that health authorities should pay for paramedic crew, instead of raiding charity coffers.

The news comes as the charity today announced that there had been enough donations from the public to keep the helicopter flying seven days a week for the next six months.

The air ambulance charity's fear that the Automobile Association would reduce its national sponsorship of air ambulances, was revealed in the Evening Star in November.

And now the current sponsorship deal is being cut down from March 31 – with the charity losing out to the tune of half a million pounds locally.

At the time, an air ambulance spokesman called for a uniform policy about wages for flying paramedics -which some charities in other parts of the country don't have to pay for.

He said it would be easier for the charity if it didn't have to cover paramedics' wages.

He added: "The charity is directly funding medical care, which would be provided by the NHS but for its intervention."

The East Anglian Ambulance Trust has received a letter from the Department of Health, recommending that health authorities take responsibility for funding paramedics on air ambulances.

But although chief executive Dr Chris Carney welcomed the news, he told directors at an ambulance board meeting in Norwich the charity would still have to pay for the paramedics this year.

He said: "This communication arrived far too late to be included in the bids for funding this year. It literally arrived a week before the end of the consultation process."

He added: "It appears likely that the NHS will have to ultimately accept responsibility for the funding of air ambulance paramedics in the future."

He said a new report into the effectiveness of air ambulances was being researched and would be finished within the next 18 months.

The lack of proof about the effectiveness of air ambulances was one reason the Department of Health told the Star in August 2000 that it would not fund our air ambulance.

The £600,000-a-year service is instead financed by charitable donations, and the AA.

General manager of the air ambulance Kate Lewis said air ambulance shops in Ipswich and Peterborough and lottery are going from strength to strength.

She added: "I am delighted to put to an end any suggestion that the service may reduce its number of operational days."

The East Anglian Air Ambulance is also hoping to link up with its counterpart in London, which has a special computer database to monitor performance.


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