Major shake-up for Air Ambulance to reach hundreds more patients in Wales

A SHAKE-UP from the air ambulance could see it reach hundreds more patients thanks to the analysis

The Wales Air Ambulance Charity is currently working on a world-renowned in-depth analysis which reveals it could be involved in more than 500 additional rescue missions across Wales each year.

The analysis is one of the most comprehensive conducted by an air ambulance in the world and examines the most efficient use of the Service’s existing resources.

The results show that with a reconfiguration of base locations and medical rotation patterns, Wales Air Ambulance could fly up to 583 additional missions each year.

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This would see the Welshpool base in mid Wales closed and the Caernarfon base could be moved to another location in North Wales.

A Welsh air ambulance lands at Rhyl. Photo: Kit Morgan

This would mean that every county in Wales would see an increase in missions.

At present, Wales Air Ambulance meets 72% of the total demand for its service. This could go up to 88%.

For people in North Wales, this would mean the Wales Air Ambulance could:

  • Participate in up to 14 additional missions in Gwynedd each year
  • Participate in up to 12 additional missions in Conwy each year
  • Participate in up to 1 additional mission on Anglesey each year
  • Take on up to 13 additional missions in Denbighshire each year
  • Participate in up to 17 additional missions in Flintshire each year
  • Participate in up to 2 additional missions in Wrexham each year

The in-depth analysis shows that currently there are still people across Wales that the service cannot attend, due to a number of factors.

At the same time, it has valuable transportation, including helicopters and rapid response vehicles, and highly trained clinicians that are underutilized.

Extensive independent data modeling suggests that the most beneficial and efficient service delivery model for Wales is as follows:

  • Move crews from Welshpool (including aircraft and rapid response vehicles) and collocate them with the North Wales operation. Two helicopters, two crews, one location. The location in North Wales is subject to further analysis.
  • Extend the opening hours of the aforementioned base. One team must operate from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and the other from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. The two crews in question currently operate 12 hours but this could increase to 6 p.m., covering peak demand periods. As a result, patients in North Wales, Powys and Ceredigion with life-threatening or limb-threatening illnesses or injuries after 8 p.m. will have a more localized response rather than needing the team to busy night based in Cardiff.
  • Ensure the aircraft is not scheduled for maintenance during peak hours eg summer (currently beyond our control)
  • Day helicopters will become capable of night vision allowing us to operate in the dark (dawn and dusk during day shifts, especially during winter months with shorter daylight hours)

David Gilbert, chairman of the trustees of Wales Air Ambulance Charity, said: “We have already started the process of engaging with key stakeholders. We’ll keep everyone updated as we move through the analysis and decision-making process, but it’s fair to say that any potential changes wouldn’t happen for some time.

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Dr Sue Barnes, chief executive of the charity, said: “Thanks to the trust the public has placed in us over the past 21 years, we have been able to evolve into one of the world’s leading air ambulance operations. the most advanced in Europe. We have a reputation for making decisions with patients and their families at heart.

“It is important to remember that we are going to the patient, the patient is not coming to us. There is strong evidence which indicates that the whole of North Wales, as well as all other parts of Wales, will benefit from the proposed changes.

“Our goal is always to make the most of our donations by helping even more people in need. People have trusted us in the past and we have delivered. Whatever we decide to do moving forward, we really hope people will trust us again.

Speaking about the reason for the analysis, Dr Barnes said: ‘Our previous assessment, published earlier this year, proved that we provide an excellent standard of care to people in Wales. More people are surviving thanks to our advanced service. Now we want to know if we are providing this excellent care equitably and to as many people as possible with our current resources.

“Air ambulance in Wales is 21 years old and has come a long way. Our focus has changed from getting patients to the nearest hospital to getting our advanced doctors to the patient. We now operate both by road and by air. This is essential when aircraft are grounded for technical reasons or when flying conditions are poor. The current locations mean that patients in North and Mid Wales suffer from a lack of this alternative supply due to poor road access – unlike their counterparts in South Wales.

“Additionally, our current aviation contract is up for renewal, which provides us with a unique opportunity to review our current service offering. Any identified service enhancements will need to be included as part of the contract with the successful bidder.”

“Due to the current increase in the cost of goods and services, we expect a 30% increase in aviation costs, so it is more important than ever that we use public donations in the most effective way. and as efficient as possible.

Wales Air Ambulance at the scene of an accident.  Photo: Brecon Roads Police/Twitter

Wales Air Ambulance at the scene of an accident. Photo: Brecon Roads Police/Twitter

The Air Ambulance Service in Wales is a unique third and public sector partnership between the Wales Air Ambulance Charity and NHS Wales. They came together in 2015 to create the Emergency Medical Recovery and Transfer Service (EMRTS Cymru).

The Service’s critical care consultants and practitioners can provide innovative emergency treatment across Wales, including minor operations, blood transfusions and anaesthesia. These were previously not available outside of a hospital environment.

While EMRTS Cymru provides the medics, the Wales Air Ambulance Charity currently needs to raise £8m a year to fund the helicopters and rapid response vehicles.

Professor David Lockey, EMRTS National Director and international authority on air ambulance operations, added: “From an NHS perspective, we are delighted that the data suggests that with existing resources we can improve the coverage the service provides to all parts of Wales. Increased use of helicopters and rapid response vehicles will allow us to care for hundreds of critically ill and injured patients when they need us most.

“The data clearly shows that we still have people across Wales who we cannot attend, due to several factors, and at the same time we have transport and clinicians who are underutilized in the configuration. current. This needs to change and this plan could provide real benefits to our patients. »

Dr Barnes concluded: “This is a complex analysis but with clear results. We wholeheartedly welcome and encourage anyone who has a question to contact us directly so that we can offer more information on these results.

Anyone with questions can contact the charity via [email protected]

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