The results of the analysis suggest that with a reconfiguration of base locations and changes to its shift patterns, the WAA could significantly increase the number of additional missions it could participate in each year.

WAA currently meets about 72% of total demand for its service, but says it could increase that to 88%. The charity says this would allow it to operate up to 583 additional missions per year – the charity carried out 3,544 missions in 2021.

WAA says its analysis suggests every region of Wales could benefit from an increase in the number of patients served under the proposed changes. (See table)

A key proposal from the analysis would be to close the Welshpool base in Welshpool, Powys, and move its crew (including aircraft and rapid response vehicles) to a new, currently undetermined site in North Wales. .

The aforementioned base’s operational hours would also be extended to 6 p.m., from its current 12-hour operational period (two crew, one operating from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., the other from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m.). WAA says this would allow for a more localized response, rather than North Wales residents relying on the busy Cardiff-based overnight crew, which launched 24/7 operations in 2020.

Other suggestions presented in the analysis include equipping WAA’s day-only helicopters to be night vision capable to allow better coverage during hours of darkness and to ensure that aircraft do not are not scheduled for maintenance during peak hours such as summer (WAA said this last suggestion is currently beyond their control).

The analysis incorporated data from EMRTS and other NHS sources

The data analysis incorporated a large amount of mission data from the Cymru Emergency Medical Recovery and Transfer Service (EMRTS) and other NHS Wales sources, supplemented by a major published five-year service assessment in March 2022.

The data was broken down into periods of time, geography and seasonality and shared with world-leading analytics firm Optima, which presented a series of projections. The analysis also included support from an external aviation consultancy, Aeroptimo.

David Gilbert, Chairman of the WAA Trustees, said, “We have already begun the process of engagement with key stakeholders. We’ll keep everyone updated as we move through the analysis and decision-making process, but it’s fair to say that any potential changes wouldn’t happen for some time.

The 21-year-old charity is looking to adapt for the future

Dr Sue Barnes, chief executive of Wales Air Ambulance Charity, said: “There is strong evidence to indicate that every part of Wales will benefit from the proposed changes. Our goal is always to make the most of our donations by helping even more people in need.

“Air ambulance in Wales is 21 years old and has come a long way. Our focus has changed from getting patients to the nearest hospital to getting our advanced doctors to the patient. We now operate both by road and by air. This is vital when aircraft are grounded for technical reasons or when flying conditions are poor. The current locations mean that patients in North and Mid Wales suffer from a lack of this alternative supply due to poor road access – unlike their counterparts in South Wales,” it said. she adds.

Barnes also confirmed that WAA’s current aviation contract is being renewed, providing a ‘once a decade’ opportunity to reassess the charity’s current service delivery. Furthermore, she said reassessing the efficiency of the charity’s use of resources was particularly vital “due to the current increase in the cost of goods and services”. She said the WAA “expected a 30% increase in aviation costs”.

The analysis comes after WAA celebrated its 21st year of operation earlier this year, coinciding with the launch of a new brand for the organisation.