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Children’s Air Ambulance Welcome WATCh and NEST

The Children’s Air Ambulance is teaming up with two transport teams from University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust to help save the lives of children in the south west.

The partnership with Wales & West Acute Transport for Children (WATCh) and Newborn Emergency Stabilisation & Transport Team (NEST) was announced today at an official launch in Bristol.

WATCh and NEST, which are based at Bristol Children’s Hospital and St Michael’s Hospital respectively, are teams dedicated to transferring the most vulnerable, sick babies and children to specialist treatment centres, giving them the best chance of survival.

Teaming up with the Children’s Air Ambulance will not only enable WATCh and NEST to complete some transfers up to four times faster than by land ambulance, but will also free up valuable time for clinicians who have to spend less time on single missions.

Dr Will Marriage, lead clinician from WATCh, said: “The WATCh team provides mobile children’s intensive care support to all the district general hospitals in South West England and South Wales. The team covers a wide geographical area and access to the TCAA helicopter has meant that we can quickly deliver a specialist team to a child’s bedside, however far away they are from a children’s Intensive Care Unit.”

The Grand Appeal, the Bristol Children’s Hospital charity, funded a specialist stretcher for use in the helicopter.

Anna Shepherd, deputy director, The Grand Appeal, said, “The Grand Appeal is celebrating its 21st anniversary this year, as well as 150 years of Bristol Children’s Hospital, making the announcement of this partnership between WATCh, NEST and the Children’s Air Ambulance even more special.

“Bristol Children’s Hospital treats acutely unwell children from across the largest geographic area of any children’s hospital in England, covering Wiltshire, Dorset, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, and South Wales.

“We are very proud to support both WATCh and NEST’s critical work to transfer children from across this vast area back to Bristol, for the lifesaving care available.”

Patrick Turton, lead nurse for the NEST team, said : “We are really pleased to have developed a partnership with the Children’s Air Ambulance moving babies in need of emergency specialist care into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at St Michael’s Hospital. We also move some babies back the long distances to their home hospitals which is important for keeping families and their support networks together.

“The NEST team transfers more than 700 babies every year, and using the Children’s Air Ambulance for some of these transfers can really shorten the journey time for the babies, and help the team to be ready to respond quickly to another referral.”

Richard Clayton, director of operations for the Children’s Air Ambulance, said: “This partnership represents a tremendous opportunity to provide help to some of the most critically ill children and babies in Wales and the south west.

“Sick children and babies are at their most vulnerable when they are out of the hospital environment. By performing helicopter transfers we not only reduce that risk, but help save clinicians valuable time, helping them reach other children faster.”

Supporters can help WATCh and NEST by donating to The Grand Appeal. Visit www.grandappeal.org.uk for more information.

On average, two children a day could benefit from our transfer service.

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