Record fuel prices 'could put lives at risk', warns emergency care charity

  • Watch Richard Payne's report

Some of our region's charities say their lifesaving work could be put at risk because of the rising cost of fuel.

An emergency motorbike courier service based in Bristol which delivers blood and vital specimens to hospitals has told ITV News it may soon be forced into choosing which job is the most urgent - after petrol prices hit a record high.

The Great Western Air Ambulance charity has begun a dedicated appeal for donations towards fuel bills - after suffering a 40 percent jump in costs.

The Freewheelers Emergency Voluntary Service, which runs 14 motorcycles across Bristol, Bath and Taunton, estimates its annual fuel bill to be £30,000 after a £100 weekly jump in the cost of filling their petrol tanks.

Rider and fundraiser Chris MacDonald says: "We are concerned because if it stays that high, it will run down our resources and we may have to look at prioritising between the most urgent jobs. We may have to defer to the following day, jobs that aren't that urgent."

Last year, the Great Western Air Ambulance charity (GWAAC) gave 48 patients emergency blood transfusions, using blood delivered to them by the motorcycle crews free of charge.

The Great Western Air Ambulance gave 48 patients emergency blood transfusions last year Credit: ITV News

The annual cost of fuelling the helicopter and three ambulance cars is now at least £70,000, a jump of £20,000 and a financial hit which the charity says impacts the progress it can make.

"It could cost lives," admits Specialist Paramedic Dan Davis. "Maybe there's a pause in some of the innovative projects we do and there are salaries that need to be paid also. Without the fuel, without our vehicles, we can't get out. It seems unsustainable but we have to try to stay with it."

Both charities are only too aware the financial pressures facing many squeezes donations, too, making this one of the toughest times to maintain a 24/7 service many rely on in their hour of need.