Air Ambulances UK
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Policy and Public Affairs

Representing and advocating on behalf of our Members on key issues and Government policy

Air Ambulances UK works tirelessly on behalf of its Membership to represent and advocate the needs, requirements and views of air ambulance charities and the wider air ambulance sector.

We campaign and lobby on key issues to enable improvements in the delivery of air ambulance charity lifesaving pre-hospital care.

Much of our Policy work is focused on our All Party Parliamentary Working Group for Air Ambulances (APPGAA), an informal cross-party group that is run by and for Members of the House of Commons and House of Lords.

Details of the next APPGAA meeting will be announced soon.

Current key issues

The current key policy issues facing our air ambulance charity members are:

  • Access to, and Safeguarding of, Hospital Helipads and Community Landing Sites


    There are 33 Major Trauma Centres in the UK, however, not all have on-site primary hospital helipads. Only 17 have an on-site primary hospital helipad available during the night but not all of the 17 are in operation 24/7 due to planning constraints. Approximately, 60% of Major Trauma Centres in the UK do not enable 24/7 hospital helipad operations.

    24/7 access to an on-site primary hospital helipad at a Major Trauma Centre and/or specialist hospital, negates secondary land transfers, ensuring that critically ill patients receive optimum speed to treatment, day or night.

    Almost all hospital helipads are classified as unlicensed heliports and aerodromes. Consequently, no formal safeguards are in place as there is no requirement for statutory consultation concerning hospital helipads and coinciding planning and developments.

    Air Ambulances UK (nationally) and air ambulance charities (locally) are not listed as consultees to engage in strategic planning conversations with NHS England, NHS Scotland, NHS Wales, HSC in Northern Ireland, NHS Trusts and Boards, and Local Authorities, concerning hospital helipads and community landing sites in the UK. This exclusion makes it a challenge for the air ambulance community to stay informed and actively participate in the decision-making process; to enable early conversations about the impact on lifesaving critical care.


    1) By the end of 2025, ensure that the Department of Health and Social Care, along with UK-wide NHS authorities, develop a SMART project pathway plan, ensuring all UK Major Trauma Centres and specialist hospitals have 24/7 accessible on-site primary hospital helipads by 2030, aligning with the Health Infrastructure Plan.

    (2) By the end of 2025, ensure the Department for Transport and the UK Civil Aviation Authority advocate for all UK Local Planning Authorities to engage with regional air ambulance charities and/or helicopter operators to establish a specialised safeguarding pathway for hospital helipads in the UK, and for retrospective consultation, in decisions affecting hospital helipads and/or community landing sites; aligned with DfT Circular 2002 and CAP 738 ‘non-official safeguarding maps’

  • Safe Access to Patient Data


    Air ambulance charities prioritise delivering the highest level of patient care. It is crucial for the charities to have access to patient data once they leave air ambulance care and transfer to NHS services. A seamless transition of this data would help air ambulance charities to gain further insight into the full patient pathway to inform and take learning from patient outcomes, and enhance aftercare support.


    (1) By the end of 2025, support Air Ambulances UK with engagement and collaboration with NHS England to secure safe access to patient data for air ambulance charities.

    (2) By the end of 2025, support Air Ambulances UK to ensure that air ambulance charities have a seat at their Integrated Care System Board; to be involved in conversations about the system response to patient need in their local communities and to ultimately provide the right care in the right place.

  • Increased Demand and Increased Cost


    Air ambulance charities in the UK have continued to provide specialist critical care to patients in need of urgent treatment and care, amidst the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing NHS challenges, including the repeated public sector staff strikes and the continued pressures on land ambulance trusts.

    Air ambulance crews have worked tirelessly to safely adapt their services to meet patient need. Air ambulances are facing an increase in dispatches to patients, together with the reality of being hit with fundraising challenges due to former lockdown implications and the cost-of living crisis.

    Air ambulance lifesaving services are not immune to the rise in costs of, for example, fuel and other necessary equipment such as medical monitors.

    In 2021, the UK’s air ambulances collectively attended approximately 30,100 missions, and in 2023, 46,000 missions, evidencing a 53% increase. **

    The average cost of an air ambulance helicopter mission increased from £3,962 in 2021 to £4,110 in 2023, highlighting a 4% rise. **


    (1) Within each consecutive financial year, urge the Department of Health and Social Care to support the air ambulance community to identify and obtain UK-wide government grants and capital funding for equitable distribution.

    Respective funding would enhance UK air ambulance charities’ lifesaving services to meet the increasing demand and cost, whilst ensuring that air ambulances can operate from modern, fit for purpose airbases which provide a professional environment for crew, a safe and welcoming space for bereaved families and former patients, and facilities for fundraising activities and visits from supporters.

  • Statutory Levy for Lotteries


    The government has proposed to impose a statutory levy of 0.1% of “gross gambling yield” (GGY) on all lotteries. Recognising that lotteries, unlike the rest of the gambling sector, are required to contribute all of their profits (which must be a minimum of 20% – air ambulances average 77%) to good causes, government proposed that GGY for lotteries should be defined as proceeds minus prizes minus good causes. As lottery proceeds may only be used for prizes, good causes and reasonable running costs, any increase in costs can only come from reducing prizes (with probable consequent effects on proceeds) or reducing the sum available for good causes.

    In addition, however, the government has proposed that External Lottery Managers also pay the same levy, although it is less clear on what that will be based on. What is clear is that it will mean a further increase in costs for lotteries, with a further consequent reduction in sums available for good causes.

    Unlike all other forms of gambling, lotteries have no “yield” – all of the money raised after paying prizes and costs goes to the good cause. In addition, the rates of gambling harm caused by lotteries is significantly lower than those other forms of gambling.


    (1) By the end of 2025, urge the Department for Culture, Media & Sport to agree to a zero rate of statutory levy for lotteries and a continuation of the current voluntary contributions.

    Lotteries, which allocate all profits to good causes, should not be burdened with additional costs that would ultimately reduce funds available for wider meaningful causes. Instead, advocate for a fair and tailored approach to regulation that supports the important work of organisations, such as air ambulance charities, ensuring that resources are maximised for the benefit of society.

AAUK Speakers at the Parliamentary Reception
Pete Wishart at the Parliamentary Reception
Helen Whately MP at the Parliamentary Reception

Ways That YOU Can Demand Action!

You have the power to help air ambulance charities across the UK to save even more lives and remain at the forefront of pre-hospital care.

Every voice counts in calling for action. Join us in urging the next UK Government to commit to supporting the UK’s air ambulances.

If you agree that these issues need tackling, you can add your voice to our open letter to the next UK Prime Minister – please sign below.

Doorstep Talking Points

Did you know that you may have local Prospective Parliamentary Candidates and party volunteers knock on your door to discuss why you should vote for them and their party? By using our suggested doorstep campaigning toolkit, you can effectively highlight air ambulance key issues with local candidates right at your doorstep, if air ambulance charities are close to your heart. If you would like to view our doorstep talking points – please click here!

Outcomes of our policy work

We have enjoyed great success in helping to shape, influence and lobby for change on Government policy, which enabling our Members to deliver an enhanced lifesaving service. These include the following examples:

  • Aviation Fuel Vat Relief

    Chancellor George Osborne announced in his Spring Budget statement 2014 that aviation fuel for air ambulances would no longer be subject to VAT, bringing them in line with sea rescue services and saving charities thousands of pounds each year. The Finance Act 2015 added two new sections to the VAT Act 1994 with effect from 1 April 2015, enabling the refund of VAT relating to non-business activities carried out by air ambulances, search and rescue charities, and medical courier charities.

  • £5,000,000 Air Ambulance Fund Announced

    The Autumn Statement 2014 announced £5m available to air ambulance charities from the Libor Charity Funding scheme. It was confirmed in early 2015 that the twenty air ambulance charities were to receive grants of £250,000 each to improve patient care locally and, increase availability and activities.

    Chancellor George Osborne said: “It is absolutely right that we use funds from those who demonstrated the worst values to reward those who demonstrate the best.”

  • Libor Grants

    Over a three-year period, air ambulance charities were collectively awarded LIBOR funding for individual projects at a local level such as purchasing of new aircraft, night time operations and development of new operating bases.

  • Lottery Limit

    In 2018, the amount that society lotteries could raise was subject to an annual sales limit of £10m. If this was not changed, our air ambulance charity Members running lotteries would need to limit their recruitment of new members, restricting a major source of fundraising income. The alternative would be to take out an additional licence and restructure their existing lottery, incurring unnecessary expense. We were successful in working with the APPGGA to have the limit increased.

  • Covid-19 Grant

    Air Ambulances UK secured £6million from the Department of Health and Social Care in May 2020 to support the lifesaving work of the UK’s air ambulance charities in the vital role they have in supporting the frontline response to Covid-19 whilst continuing to save lives in their local communities.

    The grant was awarded in response to air ambulance charities experiencing a drop in fundraising income whilst incurring increased expenditure associated with providing frontline support to hospitals trusts and regional ambulance services to care for Covid-19 patients and ensuring effective infection control measures were implemented.

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