In depth: Air ambulance set to go it alone as it eyes expansion

Thames Valley air ambulance NNL-180901-125141001
Thames Valley air ambulance NNL-180901-125141001

Thames Valley Air Ambulance (TVAA) has started 2018 with a big ambition – to become an independent medical organisation by the end of the year.

The service, which currently works hand in glove with South Central Ambulance Service, is working to be accredited by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Thames Valley air ambulance NNL-180901-125328001

Thames Valley air ambulance NNL-180901-125328001

If it achieves its goal, it will allow the air ambulance to employ its own paramedics rather than hiring cover from the ambulance service. It may also be able to increase the number of paramedics on its team from ten to 15 or even 20.

Once accredited by the CQC it hopes to be given good or outstanding status.

Medical director Dr Syed Masud said; “TVAA are delighted to have been able to reach this point and are confident this future model and our close working relationship with SCAS will allow us to continue to enhance the critical care service to meet the need of the public we serve”.

Established in 2000, TVAA operates 365 days a year and provides emergency medical care for around two million people that live, work and travel in Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

Each day, an average of three people in the region will find themselves in a life-threatening situation which requires urgent, high-quality medical treatment.

It provides a vital service for people with critical injuries needing immediate emergency medical attention and transport to hospital and also for retrieval of injured patients from remote locations.

The air ambulance team are seen as special heroes for their work and many fundraising groups and individuals help to pay its costs.

The service costs £5m to run and the expansion planned is like to add a further £2m to that cost.

But TVAA is confident the huge groundswell of public support it enjoys will be maintained and that fundraising and donations will cover the extra amount needed.

Amanda McLean, CEO TVAA explains; “Thanks to the generous support TVAA receives from the public, we are now in a position to move to a new operating model and assume responsibility for clinical governance and the delivery of advanced critical care across the Thames Valley.

“We will continue to work in close collaboration with SCAS to deliver the highest level of care to patients by bringing the expertise of the hospital to the roadside to enhance patient outcomes.

“Thames Valley Air Ambulance (TVAA) is an incredibly well supported charity committed to enhancing patient care through innovation, research and continued training and education of their clinical team. TVAA are passionate and driven to constantly improve patient care.”

Thames Valley Air Ambulance (TVAA) attends all sorts of incidents where seriously injured people need to be transported to hospital with great speed, or where they cannot be moved by road from an isolated location.

Most people will have heard of motorways being closed so the air ambulance can land to treat and transport critically injured victims.

They also attend accidents in the countryside such as hunts, horse shows and other rural ‘off-road’ incidents involving injury.

Polo player Vanessa Whiteley from Buckinghamshire was playing in a match at Kirtlington when she was thrown from her horse and suffered serious injury.

“I don’t recall much about my accident or the initial period in hospital as I was unconscious for the most part. Although I can’t fully recollect what happened I will tell you what I know.

“My horse tripped and we both fell. She then rolled on me, trod on me and then kicked me in the chest and head (after my hat had fallen off). My mother tells me within 15 minutes the TVAA helicopter flew in with the vital equipment and brave paramedics on board.

“A chest drain was made in my side, a brace was fixed round my head and neck and I was lifted into the helicopter quickly. Had I not been collected and flown to hospital as fast as I was, the pressure in my head would have caused some damage,” she said.

“I spent 10 days in the John Radcliffe’s ICU. Having liaised with doctors, paramedics and some of the Air Ambulance team, the worries in my head have finally disappeared.

“I visited TVAA’s helicopter and the crew at RAF Benson and was so proud to meet the courageous team behind the start of my positive recovery.

“There is not enough space on this page to explain how grateful and amazed I am at the bravery and positivity of the whole team. I want to thank them all so much for saving me and most importantly giving my mother someone to trust and look up to during this horrible day for her.”

Over the last few years, the specialism of Pre-Hospital Emergency Medicine (PHEM) has developed both regionally and nationally.

The development of PHEM has changed the access all patients receive to healthcare, whether acute, chronic or immediate.

Thames Valley Air Ambulance (TVAA) has worked with South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) to enhance the care provided to its most immediate and critically injured patients who often require specialist interventions and actions.

These include the formal addition of doctors, on-scene blood transfusions, rapid diagnosis and the ability to perform emergency surgical procedures on the roadside.

TVAA and SCAS have worked hard to improve access and availability of this acute service and are committed to continuing to enhance this provision to meet the needs of the public that they serve. However, this is becoming an increasing challenge in times of heightened financial pressure on NHS organisations. Over the last few months TVAA have worked to identify a solution that will allow them to continue to expand and enhance the vital service they provide across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.

Thames Valley Air Ambulance (TVAA) has evolved into one of the UK’s leading air ambulance charities and is pushing the boundaries of medical intervention, helicopter aviation and on-scene patient care. Medical innovations on board have advanced from basic medical kits to a full range of life-saving equipment.

TVAA was the first air ambulance in the UK to carry a hospital standard blood analysis machine, vital for speeding up diagnosis and helping to shave off valuable seconds in the ‘golden hour’, giving the patient the best chance of survival.

Thames Valley Air Ambulance receives no funding from government, the National Lottery or official sources.

It relies entirely on the generosity of fundraisers and people offering donations for its annual costs.

Members of the public, groups and organisations are urged to consider raising funds to help keep the service growing.

The TVAA website www.tvairambulance.org.uk has an area dedicated to fundraising. It offers inspiration and a range of ideas and suggestions of challenges that supporters can do as groups or individually.

There are organised events such as walks, runs and swims and for those who want to organise their own event suggestions range from holding a charity fun day to having a bake sale or setting yourself a personal challenge.

To speak to someone in the Thames Valley Air Ambulance fundraising department, call 0330 999 0135.