I agree that Air Ambulances provide an invaluable service, in particular in rural areas, such as our constituency. The Lincs and Notts Air Ambulance do fantastic work in our region and I pay tribute to their dedication.
Although, as the Government’s response to the recent petition on this matter explained, air ambulances are funded through a charitable model to give them independence, I welcome that new funding revenues are available to the charities to bid for.
I was extremely pleased to hear that my colleagues in the Department of Health and Social Care announced in February this year that Air Ambulances charities were being invited to apply for a new £10 million fund for upgraded equipment and facilities. Each charity is able to bid for up to £2 million of grant funding, which will support them to improve facilities and to deliver the best care for patients. I know that the Association of Air Ambulances welcomed this additional support.
Last year, the Air Ambulance Service reached a milestone of 35,000 missions completed, which is an extraordinary achievement. At the time, the Director of Operations said that they are “proud that [they] don’t cost the NHS a penny”, with the Deputy Clinical Lead noting that they “believe in supporting and not burdening the NHS”. I commend this attitude, and welcome all voluntary services that provide additional support throughout the NHS.
More generally, I am delighted that the Government is adding £33.9 billion extra to the NHS budget by 2023/24, part of which is directed at ensuring patients get the care they need, fast, and relieving pressure on Accident and Emergency units. These moves will help to make the NHS fit for the future.