Children's Air Ambulance
|Legal status||Registered charity|
|Purpose||Transporting critically ill children in the UK|
|Parent organization||The Air Ambulance Service|
The Children's Air Ambulance, is an air ambulance charity that operates a non-emergency air ambulance to transport and transfer children between hospitals in the UK. The charity was founded in 2008 and since 2011 has been managed by The Air Ambulance Service.
The Children's Air Ambulance is an independent charity that receives no government support, like all the air ambulances in England. TCAA is entirely funded by corporate and public donations. In 2006 it raised £46,865 and spent £47,246, in 2007 it raised £19,466 and spent £2,265, in 2008 it raised £371 and spent £0, in 2009 it raised £56,542 and spent £52,232, in 2010 it raised £608,910 and spend £424,514, in 2011 it raised £563,189 and spent £488,659. In 2011 of the £488,659 spent, £427,600 was spent on governing and income generation, £61,000 was spent on charity purposes and £74,500 was retained.
The helicopter operates from Coventry Airport, and can reach anywhere in the UK within two hours and reach all of the UK's specialised children units within 70 minutes of its base. The helicopter is not an emergency helicopter, but a transfer vehicle for children, to and from hospitals across the country. The charity requires £134,000 a month to maintain its services.
The helicopter is equipped with all standard aviation equipment, as well as a full size bed and an incubator.
Other air ambulance organisations in the UK have said that they fear their fundraising efforts will lose out due to people donating to the CAA instead. The Children's Air Ambulance Trust has caused some confusion whilst fundraising with people confusing the CAA with local air ambulances such as Wiltshire Air Ambulance and Devon Air Ambulance.
There have been some reports of established air ambulance charities warning potential donors to avoid 'bogus air ambulance charity collectors' when actually the collections are for the CAA. During initial fundraising some confusion was caused as the charity did not have a helicopter and was not operational, meaning people were reluctant to donate to the half started project.
The Devon Air Ambulance has also criticised the viability of this project, since the existing air ambulances do the potential work of the CAA, they claim there is no need for an Air Ambulance dedicated to children. They also criticised the costing of the CAA who plan to provide the service 24 hours a day, saying that their estimate of £1.5 million running costs is unrealistic given the size of the area they cover, the size of the task they plan to do and the larger than normal size of the aircraft they have chosen.
In a similar incident in early 2012 The Midlands Air Ambulance distanced itself from The Children's Air Ambulance fearing that donations would not help the cause they were given for. They also doubted the need for the proposed service. Later in the year the two charities TCAA and MAA released a joint statement asserting the need for both charities to run, and to highlight the new management of TCAA had dispensed with previous poor management.
In 2011, the Charity Commission published their report of an investigation into TCAA. It found that the charity had previously spent large amounts of income on consultancy with a company owned by the founder of the charity. The Commission had also received large number of complaints regarding literature distributed by the charity that did not mention that the charity did not operate, hire or have access to an air ambulance. Advice and guidance was given on both matters.
In 2013 the head of the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance was interviewed by the BBC and claimed many criticisms against TCAA, particularly surrounding fundraising. He highlighted that the name of the parent charity, The Air Ambulance Service was giving the impression to potential donors that they were representing all UK air ambulances, when in fact they only operate three of them.
Also in 2013 a leaked NHS report studying the viability of a pediatric air ambulance service found that operating regional services with the support of existing charities would be the best approach, contrary to TCAA's approach, whereby they propose to cover the entire country with one vehicle.