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Critical care specialist joins ‘flying doctors’

airambulance1A LLANELLI-BASED critical care practitioner has joined an innovative programme of ‘flying doctors’ that are now caring for Wales’ most critically ill patients.

Tracy Phipps has been recruited as part of EMRTS (Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service) Cymru, which sees consultants join critical care practitioners on Wales Air Ambulance missions for the first time.

Having completed a rigorous training schedule to prepare for joining the air ambulance’s missions, Tracy is one of 19 critical care consultants and 12 critical care practitioners recruited by the scheme.

The 44-year-old, who spent nine years in the army and served in Kosovo, Northern Ireland, Iraq, Germany, Cyprus and China, applied to take part in the EMRTS Cymru programme because she sees it as a fantastic opportunity to contribute to healthcare provision in Wales.

Tracy said: “I am particularly looking forward to helping to ensure that most areas in Wales are able to access top quality care regardless of location. I grew up in a farming community near Aberaeron and it was fairly isolated in terms of emergency provision. I think it will be a great step forward for us in Wales to have this service.”

A s well as deploying doctors on the air ambulance’s fleet of helicopters, EMRTS Cymru has also introduced new technology and equipment pioneered by the armed forces and developments which are a first for helicopter emergency medical service operations in the UK.

EMRTS Cymru has been developed in partnership between the Welsh Government, the Wales Air Ambulance charity, NHS Wales, the Welsh Blood Service, and the Welsh Ambulance Service.

The Welsh Government is providing £2.868m from 2015-16 to support EMRTS Cymru’s critical care team. The Wales Air Ambulance continues to rely on charitable donations to raise the £6m required each year to keep the air ambulances flying.

The ‘flying doctors’, which have already completed more than 100 missions since starting operations at the end of April, were greeted by the First Minister Carwyn Jones AM at an official launch ceremony this week.

The First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones said: “The official launch of EMRTS Cymru today marks a major milestone for the NHS in Wales. The new doctor-led critical care teams will transform our ability to provide the very best care to the most critically-ill patients in Wales. They provide patients in remote and rural areas of Wales with rapid access to the skills of a consultant in emergency or intensive care medicine who are equipped to provide life-saving and specialist critical care.”

Angela Hughes, chief executive of Wales Air Ambulance, said: “Securing consultants on board our aircraft is another significant step towards our aim of providing the most advanced air ambulance service in the world. Providing a world-class emergency care service is of great importance to the people of Wales, particularly given the number of rural communities we have.”

These developments will save the lives of many people in urgent need of assistance.

“We have received incredible support from our fundraisers since first launching in 2001, and continue to rely entirely on charitable donations to raise more than £6m each year to keep Wales’ helicopters flying.”

Tracy will work shifts with the air ambulance alongside her normal working week with local health boards.

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Dayne Stone

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