The Wales Air Ambulance Charity has a unique partnership with NHS Wales, which enables NHS doctors and practitioners to fly on board its aircraft. This means patients can receive advanced treatments and care before reaching hospital.
Through the scheme, 22 consultants and 12 critical care practitioners (CCPs) fly with Wales Air Ambulance on a fully rostered programme from the NHS’ Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service (EMRTS Cymru). The partnership also provides access to a range of sophisticated equipment and a fleet of rapid response cars, which are used on missions where appropriate (such as poor weather).
The ‘flying doctors’ are the same consultants you would see in an A&E hospital, flying to you. Our CCPs are highly skilled in critical care, from nursing and paramedic backgrounds. The teams use some of the most advanced treatments and equipment in the world, from techniques developed in the army.
The Welsh Flying Medics was the first dedicated, consultant-led air ambulance operation in the UK. The scheme is committed not only to providing the most advanced pre-hospital care in Wales, but also in upskilling and attracting doctors and CCPs to live and work in Wales.
Innovations and achievements
- The first service in the UK to carry a range of blood products including clotting factors: red blood cells, freeze dried plasma, fibrinogen concentrate and prothrombin complex concentrate. Supplied through a partnership with the Welsh Blood Service.
- The latest point-of-care testing devices, including portable blood gas analysers and an ultrasound scanner.
- Advanced-technology ventilators, which are designed work on people of all ages, from infants to elderly patients.
- Britain’s most advanced flight incubator system.
- A growing international impact. Through in-depth research with Swansea University, the service is providing new data to shape pre-hospital care globally.
- Attracting doctors into Wales, who split their time between Wales Air Ambulance and hospital shifts.
Crew profile: Pete Williams
Dr Pete Williams is a consultant in paediatric emergency medicine and joined the Welsh Flying Medics team in 2016, working from the charity’s Welshpool airbase.He moved from a senior role in Scotland to take up his dual role of working in Ysbyty Gwynedd and on board WAA.
“It’s the variety of the work which attracted me to this post. What we do is really challenging and demanding on your skills.
“When you’re in the emergency department, as tough as the work is, you know you have a fantastic team of staff backing you up. When you’re out on the air ambulance though, you know it’s your skills and judgement alone that makes a difference.
“It’s so rewarding knowing that the work we’re doing is getting specialist care to people that need it, in particular for people in North and Mid Wales where it can take one or two hours to get to a hospital for the care they need.”
“It took me a while to get used to flying! It feels very different. But I love the amazing scenery, especially in the summer. It’s a beautiful place to live.”
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