Fenland accident victims will suffer in air ambulance shake-up

ACCIDENT victims in Fenland could face life-threatening delays in treatment following the shock withdrawal of air support to Magpas.

ACCIDENT victims in Fenland could face life-threatening delays in treatment following the shock withdrawal of air support to Magpas.

The claim was made last night by Doctor Anne Booth who fears a decision by the East Anglian Air Ambulance to ditch Magpas could have disastrous consequences for people in Fenland.

“We will go by road but we are going to lose patients and there will be people dying and losing their limbs and there will be people who don’t recover to a normal life as a result,” she said.

Daryl Brown, chief operating officer for Magpas, said: “We have all our professionals saying this is madness and people will die. We are coming up to the winter and when people are trapped in cars or in water it will delay response times to the north of the county.”

Since its launch in 40 years ago, people in Fenland have raised thousands of pounds for both Magpas (now known as Magpas Helimedix) and also the East Anglian Air Ambulance which work in tandem to offer a vital service in our area.

Now privatisation of the service run by EAAA will see it no longer use the team of qualified volunteer medics provided by Magpas to employ doctors on a commercial basis.

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Any delay in treatment has been strenuously denied by EAAA which says the service will actually be improved.

EAAA will move Air Ambulance Anglia Two from RAF Wyton to Marshall Airport in Cambridge and Magpas will endeavour to negotiate a formal agreement for use of the police helicopter.

Mr Brown said: “Everyone involved believes RAF Wyton is the best place to be based to give good coverage of the area and when someone is trapped time is critical. The service, as it is, suits Fenland perfectly.

“Both charities exist for the benefit of the public and it is paid for by them. They will vote with their purses and decide which one they will give to.”

Mr Brown said the charity had spent weeks trying to persuade EAAA to have a change of heart but had been unsuccessful.

He said: “We have given over �2million worth of local, life-saving doctors to EAAA a year for free, whilst EAAA simply supply the helicopter. Our relationship with EAAA should be open and honest. So why has EAAA not consulted Magpas in the decision making process to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of fund raisers’ money on a private consultancy - which isn’t based in the East and has to rely on overseas doctors?

“The team at Magpas has been continuing to provide a world class, life-saving service within the communities across the region for 40 years. We know what we are doing. Does EAAA?”

Steve Whitby, deputy chief executive of EAAA disputes that Fenland will suffer from the change in service saying the change of base for Anglia Two will not have any noticeable impact on travelling times.

He said: “We believe that our plans mean Fenland residents will have an improved service as a result of these changes. It will mean that our helicopter is staffed 365 days of the year by a dedicated doctor/paramedic crew which has not been and is unlikely to be achieved by a voluntary crew.

“Basing Anglia Two full time at Marshalls will make very little difference to our ability to cover the region. “It should also be remembered that while the helicopters can be based at a particular location at the time of being tasked they could be anywhere in the region such as en-route back from another call or hospital and are more than capable of reaching any location in the entire region in a maximum of 25 minutes and in most cases in far less time.

“We recognise that Magpas has provided volunteer doctors travelling by road to a number of emergencies over the years, many of which the air ambulance would not be called to and it’s likely there will be a need for this service too.

“The air ambulance is called to emergencies by the East of England Ambulance Trust and this will not change.”

Until this year Magpas HELIMEDIX ran a ‘first responders’ scheme of local volunteers who they trained to deal with medical emergencies such as chest pain and breathing difficulties to treat patients until an ambulance arrives.

Earlier this year the East of England Ambulance Trust took over the running of the scheme.

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