Jeremy Hunt today met patients saved by London’s Air Ambulance as he saw how the capital’s only emergency helicopter delivers trauma care to hundreds of people a year.
The Health Secretary was flown in the helicopter from its overnight base at RAF Northolt to the helipad at the Royal London hospital, in Whitechapel, where he saw a simulation of how some patients are taken down into the major trauma unit.
He met Aderonke Joseph, who had her lower right leg amputated after being hit by a car on a pedestrian crossing in Shoreditch in January, and Dr Chloe Baker, 29, who was run over by a lorry in East Sheen as she cycled to a lecture at medical school in 2007. Dr Baker went on to become an an intensive care doctor at the Royal London.
Mr Hunt, who saw a mock demonstration of the treatment given to a cyclist who had collided with a bus, praised the air ambulance team for “providing vital support to critically ill trauma patients across London”.
Mr Hunt then went down to the Royal London’s emergency department, where he saw the handover of the “patient” from the air ambulance medics to the hospital team.
He also answered the “code red” phone for major trauma cases (speaking to a member of the LAA ground crew), and completing a sheet which details the patient’s assessment and treatment by the LAA team.
This information is used by the hospital team to immediately put in place all staff required for the patient’s treatment.
Mr Hunt said: “It was a privilege to meet staff and former patients to talk about their experiences, and to see how the team handle the toughest calls – from initial incident response to the handover with Royal London Hospital’s Emergency Department for further treatment.”
The air ambulance was set up as a charity in 1989 and is a partnership between the NHS, Barts Health – which runs the Royal London – and the London Ambulance Service. It is fundraising for a second helicopter. Its medics treat an average of five critically ill people a day.