7/7 coroner questions Olympics safety without properly-funded air ambulance
The coroner for the 7/7 inquest has questioned how safe Londoners will be during next year’s Olympics without a properly-funded air ambulance service.
In her summing up of the inquest into the 2005 blasts, Lady Justice Hallett made her strongest recommendation yet that the Whitechapel-based service should be supported more and called on the Department for Health and Mayor Boris Johnson’s office to look at its funding.
As a charity, LAA currently relies on corporate and private sponsorship with doctors provided by the NHS.
The coroner said: “I am concerned that London, a major global capital, host to the Olympics in 2012 and a prime terrorist target, should find itself dependent upon corporate funding and charitable donations, and upon professional volunteers giving up their limited free time in order to provide life-saving emergency medical care.
“It is equally concerning that the capability to provide such care is limited.”
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Dr Gareth Davies, medical director and chair of LAA’s trustees, said the team was “delighted” with the supportive words from both Lady Justice Hallett and the victims’ families.
He added: “We look forward to being more involved with emergency planning for London and, with the continued support from the public, we will keep providing this cutting edge service.”
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LAA flew 26 missions on the day of the bombings, ferrying doctors to and from the bomb sites and patients to hospitals.
The coroner previously praised it for the “vital” role it played in saving lives.
Mayor Boris Johnson promised to “look carefully” at the inquest’s recommendations.
He added: “I would like to reassure all Londoners and visitors to our great capital that much has changed in our emergency protocols, procedures and equipment since that day.”