Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland air ambulance 'could cost £2.2m a year'

An air ambulance could cost £2.2 million a year and operate from an airport in Co Fermanagh, advocates said.

Trustees of Air Ambulance Northern Ireland Ltd said positive discussions have recently taken place with Stormont Health Minister Simon Hamilton. They hope to establish a charity to complement the work of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service across the country.

Dr John Hinds, a motor racing doctor who died in a crash recently, was a keen supporter of a doctor-led helicopter ambulance and members of his family have vowed to continue his campaign.

The trustees said: "We trust by working together this vital tool in emergency care will be able to become a reality for people living in Northern Ireland.

"The trustees are very committed to the establishment of an air ambulance service that will be tasked by and complement the excellent service provided by the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service."

It would operate throughout Northern Ireland and be based at St Angelo air field near Enniskillen.

DUP MLA for the area Arlene Foster said: "Throughout the UK this valuable service is widely available, with 26 air ambulances serving mainland GB. However we have none in Northern Ireland. This needs to change.

"It is estimated that such a service could cost in the region of £2.2 million per year. At the meeting today we explored the various funding options that are available and the cocktail for funding which will be required.

"We are hopeful that this service can soon operate from St Angelo Airport, Enniskillen, and serve all of Northern Ireland."

Dr Hinds was injured while providing medical cover at a Skerries 100 practice session in Dublin earlier this month and died in hospital the following day.

He was a strong supporter of the use of helicopters to speed the injured to hospital and a petition has been established supporting his call.

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