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Plans for new air ambulance are transparent, says charity

Plans for an air ambulance helicopter in Northern Ireland are completely transparent, the charity behind the scheme has said.

Ireland Air Ambulance (IAA) spent 90% of income in the first year on salaries, premises, travel expenses and professional fees. This has reduced to 68% and is expected to fall further, the group said.

It aims to launch the helicopter, which would help people including road traffic accident victims receive speedy medical attention, in November.

Clinical director Dr Gwyn Beattie said: “IAA has always been completely transparent about all aspects of its operations and publishes its audited financial results on its website.

“As the only region in the UK without air ambulance cover we continue to find great support for our plans to provide a service for the region.”

Since 2007 the cross-border group has raised approximately £700,000 of which over £500,000 was put into its operations like managing and buying thousands of charity boxes.

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey said he had no plans to provide for a publicly-funded air ambulance service in the province. He said his priority was modernising ground ambulances.

But Dr Beattie said: “IAA receives no other funding outside public donations and collects a large proportion of its funds from some 13,000 collection boxes dispersed throughout the region. The regular collection, counting and banking of these boxes requires considerable manpower.”

He said they would continue negotiations with the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service and health officials to ensure integration of the IAA with emergency planning procedures.

“As a surgeon, working and living in Northern Ireland I am confident that our continuing fundraising and support from the community will see the air ambulance soon begin operating in the region,” he added.

Belfast Telegraph