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Campaign for air ambulance comes full circle as Chancellor pledges £4m

The campaign for an air ambulance – launched after the tragic death of ‘flying doctor’ Dr John Hinds last July – has come full circle with the announcement in today’s budget.

Chancellor, George Osborne, has planned to spend £4m on an an air ambulance service in Northern Ireland.

It is expected to be closely based on the Welsh model, which has three helicopters and is run by a charity, but staffed by the NHS.

Northern Ireland is the only region of the UK which does not currently have a helicopter emergency medical service.

Today, the Chancellor said, bank fines would be used to pay for the service.

However, on Wednesday, Mr Osborne announced that about £4m in Libor fines would be used to fund one.

A petition calling for an air ambulance – as a lasting tribute to Dr John Hinds – was set up within days of his tragic death.

More than 80,000 people endorsed demands for an air ambulance, for which the Tandragee ‘flying doctor’ had relentlessly campaigned, saying it was “vital” to save lives.

Tragically, Dr Hinds died earlier in July just three weeks after bringing the air ambulance campaign to Stormont and Health Minister Hamilton.

The Craigavon Area Hospital consultant was only 35 years of age when he died the morning after being involved in an accident while providing medical cover at the Skerries 100 Road Race.

It remains to be seen where the service will be based.

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