Health Sec Jeremy Hunt in dash to Whitechapel in London Air Ambulance helicopter
- Credit: Barts NHS Trust
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has paid a ‘flying visit’ in the London Air Ambulance helicopter today to meet the NHS trauma team and some of the patients whose lives they’ve saved.
He touched down in the helicopter at 8am at the Whitechapel helipad on the roof of the Royal London Hospital after a 10-minute dash from RAF Northolt, on his fact-finding mission to see the Emergency Department at work.
The flight from Northolt, where the helicopter is marshalled overnight, was kept secret until lunchtime—the media learned afterwards of a “private” visit.
“It was a privilege meeting staff and also former patients to talk about their experiences,” the Health Secretary said afterwards. “The trauma team provide vital help to critically ill patients across London.”
He met Anronke Joseph, who was hit by a car at a pedestrian crossing in Shoreditch in January, but sadly had to have her lower right leg amputated and spent several weeks in hospital. She was later discharged for prosthetic rehab and is now back home.
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Mr Hunt also met Dr Chloe Baker from the Royal London who was herself once air-lifted to the hospital after being run over by a lorry while cycling in 2007 on her way to a lecture in the fourth year of medical school.
“I could hear sirens,” Chloe recalls. “I knew my lung had collapsed and soon I wouldn’t be able to breathe.
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“My abdomen was filling with blood—it was ‘time critical’.
“But it was a huge relief when the helicopter arrived. Until then, everyone around me was scared and no one could help.”
The helicopter saved vital minutes getting her to the hospital, which saved her life.
Chloe got her medical doctorate and has gone on to become a trainee anaesthetist now helping save lives herself. She also ran the London Marathon for Air Ambulance charity in April.
Mr Hunt saw how “the world’s most advanced trauma care team” gets out to critically-injured patients within the M25, up to five a day on average.
Doctors often perform operations at the roadside normally undertaken only in a hospital emergency department.
A simulation staged for the Secretary showed an emergency scenario and how staff manage the “trauma pathway of care” for patients.
He even took a call and recorded medical details from the Ambulance Service to alert the hospital’s emergency department to expect a patient. The Royal London provides the doctors and the Ambulance Service the paramedics who bring in the patients, Mr Hunt was told.
But the Air Ambulance charity that makes it happen has to rely heavily on public donations to keep its world-class aviation operation in the air.