The first annual reception for the All Party Parliamentary Group for Air Ambulances (APPGAA) took place at the House of Commons on Tuesday 11th June.
The APPGAA, supported by the Association of Air Ambulances aims to raise the quality of care, effectiveness and efficiency of the Air Ambulance Services for patients through closer engagement with political leaders and policy makers.
The reception was opened with speeches by Chair of APPGAA Guy Opperman MP for Hexham and Lord Howe, Parliamentary Under Secretary for Department for Health. They addressed some of the key objectives of the APPGAA including the current application of VAT on aviation fuel and access to quality helicopter landing facilities at major hospitals.
Guy Opperman MP for Hexam and Chair of the APPGAA said: “Following the public’s clear statement in 2012 with an online petition which reached over 150,000 signatures, I and Hugh Bailey MP for York, led a debate in the House of Commons in July 2012. We have then continued pressing the Treasury to review the situation. I welcome the Ministers Statement and look forward to hearing how the rebate system will work.”
Bill Sivewright, Chairman of the Association of Air Ambulances thanked the Minister for his comments, saying: “The Air Ambulance community welcomes the Minister’s comments and commitments on VAT on air ambulance fuel and the recognition of the issues around helipads. Each local air ambulance and its ambulance service must work closely with major trauma centres to establish helipads suitable for 24 hour operation which inevitably patients will need.”
Earl Howe also in his speech praised the Air Ambulance Charities who raised in 2010-2011 FY £76.6M through public donations. He went further by recognising the shortage of helipads at major trauma centres and the need for centres to recognise “the important part of the local provision”.
Representatives from Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Trust (EHAAT) were in attendance including; Jane Gurney (CEO), Pam Withrington (Fundraising & Marketing Director), Clare Dobie (Trustee), Anni Ridsdill Smith (Trustee) and Simon Stevens (Airlifted Patient).
Jane Gurney, CEO of Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Trust, added: “This event was a great opportunity for the Air Ambulance Community to come together and network with MP’s from across the UK about real issues that affect individual charities and the wider issues often faced in the Air Ambulance world as a whole. It was a privilege to share this day with Policy Makers, Trustees and one of our very own airlifted patients Simon Stevens. The Charity team found the reception to be very beneficial and we look forward to continuing to engage with our local MP’s over the coming months.”
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