London £4.4m fundraising campaign begins for air ambulance

Landing at the British Museum Image copyright London's Air Ambulance

A public campaign to raise £4.4m in six months to buy an air ambulance for London has started.

The Your London Your Helicopter scheme wants to buy a second helicopter by the end of the summer to provide rapid trauma care for the capital.

London's Air Ambulance (LAA) currently has one helicopter but when unavailable there is no other provision.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said the city needed to "rally together" to support the campaign.

Image copyright Andres Silva
Image copyright London's Air Ambulance

LAA flies its current helicopter during daylight hours but last year it was unavailable for 55 days because of maintenance work.

Graham Hodgkin, LAA's chief executive officer, said: "When London's current, and only, emergency medical helicopter is offline for servicing or maintenance, our patients need us to have recourse to a second helicopter immediately.

"When we are able to fly we can deliver the hospital to your side, wherever you are, up to eight times faster than in a response car."

The charity said it was already looking for an appropriate second-hand helicopter to buy that would work alongside the current MD902 model - which does not have rota blades at the back - and is kept at RAF Northolt.

Image copyright London's Air Ambulance

It is expected to cost a total of £6m to acquire and sustain the helicopter and extend daylight flying hours over the next five years.

So far LAA has raised £1.6m, but it hopes the public can help raise the remaining £4.4m which, it says, would mean an additional 400 patients could be treated annually.

Mr Johnson said: "We rightly rally together to rapidly raise millions for disasters in other countries around the world but on this occasion the need is right here on our doorstep.

"That's why I'm asking that if you possibly can please rally together and support this fantastic campaign."

A helicopter team includes an advanced trauma doctor and paramedic who can perform medical interventions normally only found in emergency departments.

London Air Ambulance facts

Founded in 1989, it has treated more than 30,000 critically injured people

It serves the 10 million people who live, work and holiday within the M25

It operates in partnership with Barts Health NHS Trust and London Ambulance Service

In 2014 it treated 1,806 patients: 33% from road traffic incidents, 27% from falls and 24% from penetrating trauma including stabbings and shootings

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