- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
A flying doctors service, the first of its kind in the UK, is ready to launch on Monday (27 April), delivering life-saving care to Wales’ most remote spots.
Assembly Member Joyce Watson said the Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service (EMRTS) will transform emergency healthcare in rural areas.
Speaking in a Senedd debate on Tuesday (21 April), the Labour Mid and West AM said:
“This is the first service of its kind in Britain – one of the most advanced flying doctors services in the world.
“EMRTS has the potential to transform emergency and critical healthcare in my region, reaching 95 per cent of the population by air and 46 per cent by road within 30 minutes. It is estimated it will improve survival rates from major trauma by up to 40 per cent and significantly reduce hospital transfer times.”
Deputy health minister, Vaughan Gething, said:
“It will provide patients in remote and rural areas of Wales with rapid access to the skills of a consultant in emergency or intensive care medicine, who are equipped to provide life-saving specialist critical care.”
Operating by road and air 12 hours a day from the Welsh Air Ambulance’s (WAA) Swansea and Welshpool airbases, EMRTS will be delivered by a team of highly-trained NHS doctors from emergency medicine, anaesthesia and intensive care, working jointly with critical care paramedics from WAA. Helicopters and 4×4 vehicles will transport critical care teams and life-saving equipment to injured patients, giving them life-saving treatment at the scene and providing rapid transfer to hospital.
The service is inspired by lessons learned saving lives of wounded personnel in Afghanistan; it is believed to be the world’s first non-military emergency service to carry the most advanced blood-clotting medicines.
The Welsh government has spent £2m setting up the service and will provide almost £3m a year to support it. This includes funding to develop landing sites at Singleton, Tredegar park, Merthyr Tydfil, Llantrisant, Withybush, Nevill Hall, Dering Lines Brecon, Ysgol Penglais Aberystwyth and Glangwili Carmarthen.
Mr Gething added:
“This exciting opportunity is encouraging the very best doctors to come to Wales to train and learn new skills at the leading edge of clinical practice. The staff recruited will work normal rotas in an area that is hard to recruit to, as well as being included in the new EMRT Cymru service. This service will also bring some of the most advanced equipment and technology to Wales, such as advanced blood-clotting factors. This will be the first of its kind in a civilian setting
“EMRT demonstrates a clear commitment by the NHS to work collaboratively across strategic issues and will forge stronger partnerships with other emergency services, such as the police, fire service and coastguard.”
Further information on EMRTS Wales can be found on the Wales Air Ambulance website.