Flying doctor network needed for NHS8th October 2008
Air ambulance experts have called on the NHS to establish a network of flying doctor services.
The call, from the Association of Air Ambulance Charities (AAAC), says such a service is needed to cope with the closure of A&E units.
With the NHS moving toward regional trauma centres, air ambulance chiefs say the extra skills are required aboard helicopters.
Air ambulance services in England and Wales currently rely on paramedics whereas the European model favours greater use of doctors, a system also being adopted in Scotland.
AAAC chairman David Philpott said: "We find ourselves being called out to extremely serious cases, many road traffic accidents where the injuries can be horrific.
"But it is no longer about transporting them to the nearest A&E. What we are doing is stabilising the patients at the scene and getting them to specialist centres that can be a long way away.
"That requires specialist skills and, without doctors on board, patients may be at risk."
At present, only three of the 18 charities responsible for the 26 emergency helicopters in England and Wales use doctors all the time, although some use them occasionally.
Air ambulances have been used since the late 1980s - the first being established in Cornwall in 1987 - and now answer more than 17,000 calls each year, though the £50m annual cost is mainly met by charities.
The Department of Health spokesman said air ambulance charities would need to work with NHS trusts to agree funding if they wanted doctors on board.
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Title: Flying doctor network needed for NHS
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 8658
Date Added: 8th Oct 2008