Air Ambulance proposes to move its base from Welshpool

Welshpool's air ambulance base could close as part of a new strategy being worked up by The Wales Air Ambulance Charity.

Wales Air Ambulance
Wales Air Ambulance

The charity says that it could attend over 500 more lifesaving missions across Wales every year including more in Powys in a shake-up of its service.

But the Montgomeryshire MP and the Member of the Welsh Senedd, Craig Williams and Russell George, say they are disappointed and surprised by the proposal

The initial proposals would see Mid Wales served by air ambulances from a base in North Wales, with two other bases in Llanelli and Cardiff.

The two politicians are seeking an urgent meeting with the Chief Executive to examine the claim in more detail.

Craig Williams MP said: "We are very proud to have an air ambulance base here in Montgomeryshire and it is an incredibly important service which is vital for rural healthcare. With Montgomeryshire and Mid Wales being some of the most sparsely populated areas in the whole of the United Kingdom, having the air ambulance based here naturally makes more sense."

Russell George said: “The Wales Air Ambulance is there to support rural parts of Wales so I find it difficult to see how the base moving from the heart of rural Wales to North Wales will provide an improvement in service, despite what the Air Ambulance Trust has outlined in their initial proposals. I have met with Wales Air Ambulance but have requested to meet with the Chief Executive alongside Craig Williams MP to discuss their review in further detail. Both Craig and I will seek to robustly challenge the closure of the base in Mid Wales and look further into the detailing they have provided.”

Spokesperson for the Air Ambulance, Steven Stokes, said analysis looking at the most efficient use of the service’s existing resources showed that with a reconfiguration of base locations and medical shift patterns, improvements could be made.

"Wales Air Ambulance could attend up to 583 additional missions every year, 26 of those in Powys. Wales Air Ambulance could meet 85 per cent of the demand for its service in Powys - currently we are meeting 79 per cent.

He said extensive independent data modelling suggested the most beneficial and efficient service delivery model for Wales was to move the Welshpool crews, including aircraft and rapid response vehicles, and co-locate them with the North Wales operation. The location in North Wales is subject to further analysis.

Extend the hours of operation from north Wales with one crew to operate 8am until 8pm and the other 2pm until 2am. "Patients in Powys and North Wales with life or limb-threatening illness or injuries after 8pm would have a local response rather than needing the busy Cardiff-based overnight crew."

Dr Sue Barnes, the Charity’s Chief Executive, said: “Through the trust that the public has placed in us over the past 21 years, we have been able to evolve into one of the most advanced air ambulance operations in Europe. We have a track record of making decisions with patients and their families at our heart.

“For people in Powys, it may seem counter-intuitive that us moving away from their county would bring any benefits. But that is what our analysis is strongly conveying and it’s important to remember that we go to the patient, the patient doesn’t come to us. There is strong evidence that says this region, as well as every other part of Wales, will benefit from the proposed changes.

“Our aim is always to make the best use of our donations by attending even more people in need. People have trusted us in the past and we’ve delivered. Whatever we decide to do moving forward, we really hope that people trust us once more.”

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News