Doctors to join Wales Air Ambulance flights

WAA Doctors Announcmet

Deputy minister for health Vaughan Gething, Wales Air Ambulance paramedic Jason Hughes, pilot Grant Elgar, finance minister Jane Hutt, paramedic Gareth Williams and Dr Kyle Jacques, vice chairman of the Wales Air Ambulance board of trustees and consultant in emergency medicine

Wales Air Ambulance will have consultant-level doctors on its aircraft for the first time as part of a plan to enhance pre-hospital emergency medicine across Wales.

Deputy Minister for Health Vaughan Gething today visited the Wales Air Ambulance base in Swansea to launch the Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service (EMRTS) Cymru, which will see senior doctors join the air ambulance crews in providing critical air cover to all of Wales, 365 days a year.

A rota of consultants will work alongside paramedics on Wales Air Ambulance flights, allowing an increased range of treatments to critically ill people across Wales.

Wales Air Ambulance Chief Executive Angela Hughes welcomed the development as a landmark in the charity’s 13-year history.

“To secure consultants on board is a remarkable leap forward in providing one of the most advanced air ambulance services in the world,” she said.

“Over the last few years we have received incredible support from our fundraisers to upgrade our three helicopters and trial night flights, and the addition of doctors to Wales Air Ambulance missions is another fantastic development in our service to people across Wales.”

Whilst the charity’s dedicated paramedics are seconded from the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust, a specially-selected team of doctors will be allocated to helicopter shifts from their respective health boards; forming part of their working week in hospitals.

The consultants will be clinical specialists in areas including emergency medicine, anesthesia and intensive care, and will be accompanied on the flights by an increased range of medical equipment, including blood for the first time.

Vaughan Gething, along with Finance Minister Jane Hutt, said the allocation of flying doctors would be phased-in as part of the broader EMRTS Cymru programme. The EMRTS programme would enhance, but not replace, Wales Air Ambulance’s existing helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) operations.

Wales Air Ambulance trustee and consultant in emergency medicine, Dr Kyle Jacques, said the introduction of doctors on board would help the charity save even more lives.

“Consultants can make advanced clinical decisions and deliver critical treatments very quickly, including drugs normally only used in a hospital setting,” he said.

“To have a team of Wales’ most experienced experts, including anaesthetists and paediatricians, flying directly to an emergency will mean patients in their most difficult hour will get the care they need even faster.”

The doctors are expected to join the air ambulances in Spring 2015.

Established in 2001, Wales Air Ambulance needs to raise over £6 million in charitable donations every year to keep its three helicopters flying.

For more information visit walesairambulance.com and @air_ambulance.

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