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23 September 2014, 12:30
The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance has announced it's going to start night flights.
The charity will be upgrading to a specially equipped new helicopter - a step that is also being matched by partner Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance (TVCAA).
Since the start of flying operations seven years ago, HIOWAA has been expanding its service, and in May this year undertook its 5,000th mission.
It also carries blood on all flights, has increased its operating hours and also introduced regular doctor-led crewing - its aim is to have a doctor on board for every mission in 2015.
HIOWAA will begin operating its new helicopter from the second half of 2015. As a result, South Central Ambulance Service will then have the benefit of two helicopters with full night flying capability, and a service that will offer progressively longer periods of HEMS cover, during the hours of daylight and darkness, 365 days of the year.
Mark Ainsworth, Operations Director for SCAS comments,
"South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) welcomes this exciting development.
"Full night flying capability will improve the scope and frequency of services delivered in order to enhance patient care and experience."
Figures from University Hospital, Southampton, the helicopter's designated Major Trauma Centre, show that a significant number of trauma patients are being transported by the air ambulance - 45 in the past three months alone. The helicopter responds to patients injured by road traffic incidents, significant falls and serious medical conditions.
David Sutton, HEMS Clinical Governance Lead, said
"The air ambulance brings the hospital directly to our patients, whether this be on a roadside, in a field or in a street, transporting the most severely injured patients direct to the nearest specialist Major Trauma Centre for their needs.
"Being able to fly after the hours of darkness will make a major difference to patient outcome, particularly during the winter, when we are able to reach those early evening rush hour incidents that we would previously not have been able to reach."