THE Wales Air Ambulance now offers a 24-hour service thanks to donations from the people of Wales.

The Charity, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2021, will start operating an overnight helicopter from Tuesday, 1 December.

The cost of running the helicopters during the day currently stands at £6.5 million every year. To maintain the overnight helicopter, Wales Air Ambulance must raise an additional £1.5 million, bringing the annual fundraising total required for a 24/7 operation to £8 million.

The need for an overnight Wales Air Ambulance was identified following detailed research into life or limb-threatening emergencies that took place outside the services’ operational hours of 8am to 8pm.

Over a 12-month period, there were approximately 990 cases of ‘unmet need’ and the demand was most prevalent in South-East Wales.

While plans for the introduction of the overnight aircraft were being finalised, a road-based consultant and critical care practitioner have been operating between 7pm and 7am every night from the Charity’s Cardiff Heliport based since July 2020. From 1 December, they will be joined by a double pilot crew, allowing them to cover the whole of Wales.

Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething, said: “I am delighted the Wales Air Ambulance Service has achieved its ambition to become a 24/7 service. The introduction of the overnight helicopter will provide emergency air cover to more people who have a clinical need for immediate treatment across Wales.

“It has been a pleasure to see the charity go from strength to strength since its launch on St David’s Day in 2001. The work of the charity and its’ hardworking staff and volunteers has helped Wales to lead the way in best practice, clinical excellence and innovation and contributed to the charity becoming the largest air ambulance operation in the UK.”