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Children’s Air Ambulance to get two new helicopters

Our lifesaving helicopter transfer service for critically ill children is set to double in size under £32 million plans unveiled today.

The expansion of the national Children’s Air Ambulance will mean we can meet demand for our unique services, ensuring we can help every child in the UK who needs a lifesaving flight.

At a ceremony tonight at the Italian Embassy, in London, we will formally sign a seven year lease deal for two Anglo-Italian AW169 helicopters. It will be one of the biggest ever investments in air ambulance services in the UK.

The new aircraft will come into service in 2017 – providing seven day a week, 19 hours a day coverage from new bases in the north and south of England.

Currently our one helicopter operates in daylight hours, Monday to Friday.

Director of Operations, Richard Clayton, said: “The two new helicopters will create a truly national service that’s available when it’s needed. Children and babies don’t just get sick in office hours.

“The centralisation of specialist paediatric and neonatal teams over the years means patients can be hundreds of miles from the specialist care they need in an emergency.

“With a truly national Children’s Air Ambulance service, we can be at any hospital in the UK within 25 minutes to transfer the patient to a specialist centre such as Alder Hey in Liverpool or Evelina Children’s Hospital in London.

“And when a child is too sick to travel even by helicopter, then we can fly the specialist team direct to their local hospital,” he said.

The two new aircraft will be able to carry an incubator, have an extra passenger seat, night flying capability and greater endurance.

The deal  for the two new aircraft is with Specialist Aviation Services for helicopters built by Leonardo. It is being announced during national Air Ambulance Week.

Nigel Lemon, Sales Director at SAS, said:”Specialist Aviation Services is delighted to have been selected as outsourcing partner to provide a significantly enhanced national Children’s Air Ambulance service. We will be increasing service capability and capacity with the new helicopters, and – equally vital – we will be helping to maximise their availability.”

The need to expand the service is supported by leading NHS clinicians, including Dr Shelley Riphagen, Lead Consultant at Evelina Children’s Hospital, London.

She said: “To have a second helicopter and flight team dedicated to moving critically ill children into paediatric intensive care units in the South of the country, including London, would be a great step forward in ensuring we offer the very best, world-class transfer service to these children and families.”

Dr Steve Hancock, Lead Consultant, Embrace Yorkshire & Humber Infant & Children’s Transport Service, said: “The prospect of two helicopters – one north and one south – would mean shorter travel times so children get the care they need even more quickly.”

The Children’s Air Ambulance, which receives no government funding, flew its first mission in 2013 and works alongside seven specialist NHS transport teams. To find out how to help our little patients click here call 08454 130999.

We do not receive any government funding. Only with your donations can we fly the children who need us.

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