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£800,000 cash boost for region's air ambulance

PUBLISHED: 11:52 22 July 2019 | UPDATED: 11:52 22 July 2019

The air ambulance landed at Fiveways roundabout on the A11. Photo: Perfect Pose Photography/EAAA

The air ambulance landed at Fiveways roundabout on the A11. Photo: Perfect Pose Photography/EAAA

Perfect Pose Photography/EAAA

A bid to overhaul the region's air ambulance bases and ensure the service can run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, has been boosted by a government grant.

The Department of Health and Social Care has handed East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) nearly £800,000 as part of £10m made available in the autumn budget.

Patrick Peal, chief executive of EAAA, said: "Although air ambulance charities are primarily community-funded, relying on the general public for millions of pounds every year to keep the helicopters flying, these one-off government grants for capital projects - such as for improvements to our bases and the purchase of rapid response vehicles - are a huge boost to our work and enable us to get these big, one-off projects moving much quicker. It's great to see that so much of this government funding has been spent in the East of England and will make a huge difference to the level of emergency medical care available in the region."

In February, EAAA announced its plan to become a 24/7 helicopter service by the end of 2020.

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At the moment there is a seven hour gap, from midnight to 7am, in the East of England where no helicopter coverage is available if needed.

To make this a reality, some of the £790,313 grant will go towards renovating the charity's Norwich base, and install a new hanger closer to the Cambridge base. And night goggles will also be purchased.

The rest of the cash will be spent on two new rapid response vehicles, which can reach patients in built-up areas where the helicopters may not be able to reach.

Plus an immersive training suite for crew at the new Norwich base to better prepare teams for challenging conditions on-scene.

Between them EAAA, Essex and Herts Air Ambulance, and Magpas Air Ambulance received £2.6m of the £10m set aside by chancellor Philip Hammond to help England 18 air ambulance charities.

EAAA receives no regular government funding, and relies almost entirely on public support to keeps its two helicopters flying and saving lives across East Anglia.

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