License paves the way for Magpas to continue night-time flying

GOVERNMENT funding for emergency medical charity Magpas has been ruled out but a major step towards securing the future of the charity’s night-time flights has been taken.

At a recent meeting with the Civil Aviation Authority, officials confirmed they would be happy to license Magpas under a civil air operations code to fly missions at night.

Currently Magpas flies night-time operations with Cambridgeshire Police under a police air operations code.

The new move means if the police helicopter is scrapped next year, Magpas can continue to fly at night using a helicopter of a similar specification to the existing police one.

Chief executive Daryl Brown confirmed the charity was in discussion with two partners to lease a helicopter with the same equipment - a night sun, wire cutters and night camera.

Though under the new agreement the charity could be left with running costs of �100,000 a month. Currently Magpas only has to pay �250,000 a year to use the police helicopter.

Mr Brown said: “It is certainly achievable. There is not money within the system, Magpas needs to remain charitable funding.

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“We are looking for money from the public or a big corporate sponsor. Virgin have sponsored the London Air Ambulance. We are looking for a similar company in this region that could sponsor us.”

The news emerged following a visit by health secretary Andrew Lansley to Magpas’ base at RAF Wyton on Friday.

Mr Lansley was at the base to learn more about the lifesaving service and its role at the forefront of developing pre-hospital emergency medecine.

A recent study of trauma care has shown pre-hospital emergency medicine, as provided by Magpas, saves the NHS money and increases the chance of survival for patients by 20 per cent.

Training in the sub-speciality is being led at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge by Magpas research director Dr Rod Mackenzie and the charity’s clinical director Simon Lewis.

But despite those findings, speaking on Friday, Mr Lansley ruled out any hope of using government coffers to fund the service. He said instead Magpas should remain a “charitable activity.”

However he added the Magpas service was “simply incredible” and encouraged people to support the charity.