5 Mar 2024

London's Air Ambulance Charity's helicopter

As the charity reaches the final months of its Up Against Time campaign – needing to raise £15 million to replace its two helicopters by September 2024 – we’re urgently appealing to government for their support in the form of public funding.

We need two new helicopters to ensure our life-saving service can continue to serve the 10 million people who visit, live and work in London, and we are running out of time.

As an organisation working closely with the NHS, people are often surprised to learn that the service receives 96% of its funding from public support. We are proud to be funded by public donations and are not seeking to change our charitable status. We are so thankful to every individual who has donated and supported us since our service began in 1989.

However now we urgently need government support. Despite extensive planning and high levels of fundraising activity and public backing, the Up Against Time appeal to date is behind where it was expected to be, with cost-of-living challenges and the war in Ukraine weighing heavily on fundraising.  

We are therefore asking for financial support from the government. The charity is aware of financial pressures across all public finances but is asking for government support for 25% of the helicopter costs, totalling £3.056 million. This level of support would have a transformational effect on our campaign.  

Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP at our helipad
Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP at our helipad

Despite having a number of conversations with representatives of government over recent months, including Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP meeting with the Chancellor in 2023, we have to date unfortunately not had a positive response. 

This evening (5 March), BBC London will broadcast a news feature in which we set out our urgent need for support and publicly call on the government to give us money in the upcoming Spring Budget.

There is no alternative available to us. Whilst the existing helicopters are still airworthy, they are reaching the end of their lifespan and are becoming increasingly difficult to maintain – earlier this year our service came within hours of being grounded as a result of maintenance challenges outside of the charity’s control.  

The charity provides a life-saving service in London 24/7, 365 days a year and has treated over 46,000 critically injured people in the capital. The service is acknowledged as a world leader in pre-hospital medicine and has helped shape pre-hospital trauma care both in the UK and internationally.  

For that to continue, the government’s support in March’s budget is vital. Time is now running out.

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