VAT on Air Ambulance Fuel Payments

Part of United Kingdom Borders – in the House of Commons at 4:42 pm on 11th July 2012.

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Photo of Guy Opperman Guy Opperman Conservative, Hexham 4:42 pm, 11th July 2012

The right hon. Gentleman mentions an exceptional air ambulance charity, which is supported not just by him but all MPs concerned with the north-west.

Put simply, in my part of the world—and all others, for that matter—health care would be jeopardised without the charitable air ambulance service. I am not denigrating the providers of other emergency services, but we could not operate without the air ambulances. For example, the Great North air ambulance covers an area of 8,000 square miles, from the Scottish borders to North Yorkshire and from the east to the west coasts. The helicopters can be anywhere in the region within 15 minutes and on board are specialist trauma doctors and paramedics, who bring expert accident and emergency qualities to the scene. However, each mission costs £2,500, regardless of whether the patient is airlifted. That takes into account the cost of the aircraft, storage, paying the pilots and paramedics, and medicine and other equipment. There are hundreds of call-outs per month, and the same applies all across the country. Given that this involves paying in excess of £100,000 a year on fuel, of which VAT represents 20%, there will be a significant saving not only to the Great North air ambulance service but to several others, and that would equate to life-saving missions.