London’s Air Ambulance Charity anticipates a £6m gap in income over the next five years, due to the “sizeable” and long-lasting impact of the pandemic.
The charity has released its 2020 mission data, which shows it helped nearly 1,500 critically injured people last year, but at the same time saw big hits to its fundraised income.
It costs the charity £11m annually to deliver the service, and its chief executive said the support of the public is needed to keep the charity operational.
London's Air Ambulance Charity had an income of £13m for the year to 31 March 2020. Donations and legacies made up £5.85m of this income, and other trading activities around £6.85m.
Barts Health NHS Trust provides doctors, some financial support and helipad facilities at The Royal London Hospital. The London Ambulance Service NHS Trust provides the paramedics and the emergency infrastructure to dispatch the service 24 hours a day.
‘Impact will be felt for years to come’
Lockdowns in March and November corresponded with a slight drop in trauma calls with a return to pre-pandemic levels of activity after this time.
Jonathan Jenkins, chief executive of London’s Air Ambulance Charity, said “the effect 2020 has had on our finances is sizeable” as it was forced to stop many of its usual fundraising activities.
“This impact will be felt for years to come - we forecast a £6m gap in our income over the next five years. We need the support of Londoners now more than ever to keep our service flying,” he said.
The pandemic forced the charity to stop many of its usual fundraising activities, and cancel or postpone a number of crucial events including its annual Abseil event which the previous year raised £132,000.
In addition, last year’s London Marathon had been expected to raise approximately £82,000 but was cancelled.
‘Even during lockdown, it was our duty to make sure we were available’
The charity has announced its 2020 mission data, which shows that across London 1,494 critically injured patients were treated by a senior doctor and paramedic team at the roadside in 2020.
The average cost of a mission is £2,048.
The data shows that the three busiest boroughs were Haringey, Southwark and Greenwich.
Dr Tom Hurst, medical director of London’s Air Ambulance, said: “Over 32 years the service has treated over 40,000 patients and we have learnt that trauma never stops. So as a service we were adamant that even during lockdown, it was our duty to make sure we were available to treat patients when their life was on the line. During the Covid-19 pandemic, we remained operational 24/7 for the 10 million people who live and work in London.
“I am extremely proud of our crews and thankful to our partners Barts Health NHS Trust and London Ambulance Service, for doing everything they could to make sure our doctors and paramedics were able to treat 1,494 critically injured patients and give each one the very best chance of survival.
“Medical, aviation and operational crew all worked extra shifts to keep the service running. Many were also helping with the frontline Covid response. Thanks to them when London called, we were able to answer.”