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Wales Air Ambulance extends contracts at Welshpool and Caernarfon airports until 2026

22 Feb 2023 3 minute read
Wales Air Ambulance

Campaigners have welcomed confirmation that Wales Air Ambulance has extended its contracts with Caernarfon and Welshpool Airports until at least 2026.

Plans to relocate the bases were announced last year and sparked widespread concern, with people across mid and northwest Wales questioning the data behind a decision to move helicopter and road vehicle bases further away from existing locations.

Over 20k people also signed petitions calling for the services to remain unchanged.

Dr Sue Barnes, the Charity’s Chief Executive, said: “Our aim is to protect our services for the people of Wales while continually seeking improvements in service and availability.

“Proposed service improvements are the subject of a public engagement led by the Chief Ambulance Services Commissioner, to which we will contribute via an independent submission.

“However, time is moving on and with Gama Aviation (new aviation partner) taking over on January 1, 2024, pragmatic decisions have had to be taken.

“Given the need to ensure continuity of service and mindful of the need to give our airbase landlords some commercial certainty, we will commence our new aviation contact with our current four-base model.

“This will allow the Commissioner to conclude the process while allowing us to protect our lifesaving service.”

Public consultation

A public consultation regarding the proposed closure of Welshpool is expected to start soon.

Responding to the news, Rhun ap Iorwerth, Plaid Cymru spokesperson on health and care said: “I welcome today’s announcement that our Air Ambulance’s bases at Caernarfon and Welshpool will remain open until at least 2026, and thank all the campaigners who have worked tirelessly to reach this point.

“Now it’s important that we continue to make the case that there is a need for the charity’s four bases, in the four different parts of Wales, to remain open permanently.

“The Air Ambulance means so much to all of us, and we can continue to support it financially, knowing it provides the best possible service to all areas in Wales, particularly our rural areas that are so reliant on it.”

Welsh Lib Dem leader Jane Dodds said: “I am delighted to hear that the Welsh Air Ambulance contract for Welshpool and Caernarfon airports has been extended to 2026, offering at least temporary respite from potential closure.

“As so many have already said the campaign is not over and at this point, I would like to pay tribute to all of those who have campaigned to protect this vital service so far. A particular thanks go to Dai Williams who has played a key role in the campaign and who I understand has made the decision to take a step back.

“I like many will now be awaiting the details of the long-promised community engagement process which is due to start next month.”

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