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2023 is a busy one for the UK's air ambulance services
The lifesaving charity welcomed a new CEO, Peta Wilkinson, and celebrated various anniversaries, an overall 'Outstanding' CQC rating and 50,000 missions milestone.
The air ambulance had its second busiest year in 20 years as it responded to 3,803 potentially lifesaving missions throughout 2023.
Read this story in our February 2024 printed issue.

The Air Ambulance Service, the UK charity operating local air ambulance services for Warwickshire, Northamptonshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland, has had its second busiest year in 20 years as it responded to 3,803 potentially lifesaving missions throughout 2023. It also saw the busiest year for its Children's Air Ambulance (CAA) in over a decade.

The Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance (WNAA) along with the Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance (DLRAA), have worked tirelessly around the clock over the past year and, despite the continued impact of the cost-of-living crisis, the charity has continued to provide pre-hospital critical care across its five counties and further afield.

Dedicated crews were tasked to 3,803 potentially lifesaving missions via helicopter and critical care car, 684 more than in 2022, with DLRAA responding to 2,194 of the callouts and WNAA responding to 1,609.

The highest number of callouts were to Leicestershire and Rutland with 849, Derbyshire had 709 callouts, Northamptonshire 466 and Warwickshire had 453. A further 433 incidents were responded to across the West Midlands, 635 across Nottinghamshire, 98 across Lincolnshire and many more split across other neighbouring counties.

"Despite the continued economic difficulties everyone has faced over the last few years, the generous support from our local communities has meant our dedicated crews could continue attending lifesaving missions in 2023, our second busiest year since we began in 2003," says head of operations Philip Bridle.

"We attended our 50,000th mission last year, and we continued to enhance our 24/7 services by bringing on new critical care cars, introducing equipment to deliver critical care medicines and assist with surgical procedures, and continued to roll-out our training for critical care paramedics surrounding ultrasound, amongst many other things."

For the Children's Air Ambulance, 2023 was in fact its busiest year since it started over a decade ago. The CAA is a pioneering service, changing the face of paediatric and neonatal care through the high-speed transfer of critically ill babies and children from one hospital to another for specialist care via its clinically designed helicopters, which act as a flying intensive care unit.

In 2023, working alongside its 11 clinical partner teams, the lifesaving service took to the skies 200 times, saving 296 hours 34 minutes of vital patient time being out of a hospital environment and 694 hours 54 minutes of valuable NHS clinician's time.

The charity marked significant milestones as it undertook its first Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) transfer, which then led to a further three ECMO transfers. It also launched England's first incubator on a rotary wing aircraft in December 2022, enhancing its neonatal capabilities for 2023. The bespoke three new incubator systems helped 78 neonatal patients and their families in 2023.

Head of operations Alfie Daly says: "The Children's Air Ambulance charity is continually looking at ways to increase support to the NHS and the clinical teams we work alongside.

"On Christmas Day, it transferred a patient to Newcastle Freeman Hospital for a heart transplant showing how vital our service is, and our dedicated team of pilots, crew members, airdesk coordinators and the clinical partner teams we work alongside have made a crucial difference again this year."