The Great North Air Ambulance says a tax break announced in yesterday's budget will help save lives.
It costs £4million to run the service, £100,000 of which is the fuel needed. The VAT on that fuel has now been lifted after a lengthy campaign and a petition signed by 100,000 people.
"We're just all absolutely thrilled when we heard the news. It's been really hard to work to get to this stage, so it's just the culmination of everything we've been working towards.
We could save up to £25,000 and that money will go directly into the pot to pay for the missions. We estimate it costs about £2500 every time the aircraft flies, so you know, it could potentially save ten lives."
– Jim Entwhistle, Great North Ambulance Service
A boost has also been announced for Mountain Rescue Teams. They were disappointed the budget speech made no mention of VAT relief for them. But the House of Commons announced their funding has been secured. It means money due to run out next year will be extended beyond 2015.
Chief Inspector Andrew Clark from Police Scotland said:
"It's a really positive step forward. This is all about reassuring the people of Newcastleton that we retain a real active presence here and this will give them a single access point to access community services."
In one of the busiest times of the year for emergency services the North West Ambulance Service had a busy festive period. The most common call outs were: breathing problems (788), Falls (624) and chest pains (483). Director of Operations, Derek Cartwright said:
“We always see an increase in emergency calls at this time of year but this year has been exceptional. I would like to take this opportunity to thank NWAS staff for all their hard work in caring for the population of the North West.
“As we approach New Year, it is important that people remember 999 is for serious and life-threatening emergencies. Please help us to help the most vulnerable people, by keeping ambulances free to deal with genuine emergencies.”