Air ambulance teams join forces to increase flying hours

image captionThe Essex Air Ambulance requires £250,000 each month to keep flying

Two air ambulance charities have joined forces to increase their operating hours across the eastern region.

The Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Trust and East Anglian Air Ambulance will combine the operation of their four helicopters during the summer.

As a result there will be at least two aircraft on standby between 0700 BST and 2100 BST, an increase in cover in Essex by four hours per day.

They will be co-ordinated by the East of England Ambulance Service Trust.

The arrangement will see one helicopter from each charity covering the region through the first part of the day and the other two staffing the latter hours.

During the daytime cross-over period all four will be available across Essex, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.

Patient care

The move to a region-wide approach during the summer follows a trial by Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Trust (EHAAT) last year.

Its operations director Cliff Gale believed the partnership would prove effective.

"By working closely with our partners in East Anglia there will always be a minimum of two aircraft, so the service will be better," he said.

"We're all about patient care and I think if you're the patient you wouldn't really worry what type of aircraft and what was on the side if they were coming along to help you."

Despite the possibility of the Essex helicopter operating outside of the county, Mr Gale did not believe there would be an adverse impact on response times.

"For the majority of time there will be three or four on-call anyway, so the actual service provision will be better," he said.

"If you look at the distances involved, the aircraft travels at about 150mph, so the actual time is quite minimal if you look at it in that light."

On average the Essex Air Ambulance is deployed between two and four times each day.

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