Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 22°C

min temp: 9°C

Search

Money crisis for air ambulance service

PUBLISHED: 02:44 11 January 2002 | UPDATED: 11:10 03 March 2010

THE first anniversary of a fully operational air ambulance flying over the region has been marred by a funding crisis that could see the successful service grounded at least one day a week.

THE first anniversary of a fully operational air ambulance flying over the region has been marred by a funding crisis that could see the successful service grounded at least one day a week.

The helicopter was launched exactly a year ago and has been on standby seven days a week from mid-July, helping at 500 incidents in Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire.

The Evening Star warned of the looming funding crisis in November, after air ambulance bosses expressed their fear that the Automobile Association might not continue its national sponsorship.

They admitted yesterday, that they could be forced to reduce flying time, as the AA – which donated more than £500,000 to the trust in the last financial year - will only offer a similar amount to fund all 14 air ambulances in the country in the next 12 months.

The rest of the helicopter's income comes from fundraising by members of the public.

Kate Lewis, the trust's general manager, said: "The AA have always had on the table half a million pounds for the entire air ambulance network, and that is still the case.

"But when you consider that we received half a million pounds from them last year, however the money is divvied up we are going to get less than that."

It costs more than £750,000 to keep the ambulance in the air on a full time basis and Ms Lewis admitted that, despite a great deal of fundraising effort, they will struggle to raise that amount purely from public generosity.

"By the end of December we had raised £400,000 for the year but that is still not enough," she said.

"The point might come where we would have to consider reducing the service down but we do not want to do that. How do we go about choosing what day it would be? It would be a horrible decision to make and I very much hope that it will not be the case.

"The trustees that are raising for the charity have to have that option in the back of their minds although at this moment in time it is not being considered and it is a worst case scenario."

To avoid such a situation, the trust will need to continue to rely heavily on donations from the public and find a main sponsor for the helicopter. They may also receive money from the Government although they are still awaiting a decision.

Ms Lewis said: "We are still waiting for a Government announcement about funding from them. I don't really know if we will. I have to be optimistic that we will get something but that it not based on anything.

"We will know more about the situation in the next two months."

Despite the financial pressures Ms Lewis remains confident the air ambulance will continue to operate in the skies over East Anglia on a full-time basis for many years to come.

"I am very hopeful because I do not believe the people of the region will stop supporting us and they are 100 per cent behind the air ambulance.

"It is no secret that we receive no Government support and if that continues people of the region will be disturbed by that," she said.

"I also hope that the good feeling the public have about the ambulance will attract a main sponsor from within the region."

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Ipswich Star

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists