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:

  • Increased Demand and Increased Cost

    Air ambulance charities have continued to provide specialist critical care to patients during the Covid-19 pandemic as well as throughout the current NHS challenges including the repeated public sector staff strikes and the ongoing pressures on land ambulance Trusts.

    They have worked tirelessly to safely adapt their services to meet patient needs. Charities are facing an increase in dispatches to patients together with the reality of being hit with fundraising challenges due to lockdown and the cost-of living crisis. Alongside this, the lifesaving charities are not immune to the rise in costs of, for example, fuel and other necessary equipment such as medical monitors.

  • Safe Access to Patient Data

    Providing the highest level of patient care is the key priority for air ambulance charities. It is crucial for charities to have access to patient data once they leave air ambulance care and transfer to NHS services. This data would help air ambulance charities to gain further insight into the full patient pathway and ultimately the patient outcome.

  • Access to and Engagement about Helipads and Landing Sites

    Access to a suitable helipad is crucial to providing lifesaving care in critical situations. Every second counts and access to a helipad at a Major Trauma Centre saves lives by negating the need for a secondary land transfer for patients, for example, from an off-site landing to the Major Trauma Centre.

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.