Cornwall Air Ambulance has launched a two-year programme in conjunction with South West Ambulance Service, NHS Foundation Trust, that will see doctors flying on board the county’s emergency helicopter service for up to four days a week.

Eight education support physicians (ESPs) have been recruited. All have served either in the military or in other helicopter emergency services, here and abroad.

The group includes GPs, emergency doctors, intensive care specialists and anaesthetists.

The physicians will fly with the paramedic crew for at least three days a week for the next two years.

When not tasked with missions, the physicians will assist the paramedics in developing enhanced clinical knowledge and skills via simulation and teaching sessions at the Newquay airbase.

This enhanced pre-hospital care programme is designed to increase the clinical knowledge and pre- hospital critical care skills of the aircrew paramedics. This will enable the paramedic crew to deliver clinical skills such as enhanced analgesia and sedation.

Paula Martin, CEO of Cornwall Air Ambulance, said: “We are excited to be able to deliver such a programme of excellence with our partners and are proud that patients throughout the county in their hour of need will benefit from the broader knowledge base of the paramedics.”

The two year education support programme will cost Cornwall Air Ambulance £200,000. The charity is fortunate enough to have received significant legacies that enable this commitment to delivering excellence in critical care. Therefore, the charity is not appealing for extra funds to deliver this education support programme.

However, the 700 plus missions that Cornwall Air Ambulance attends each year, as well as the 100 plus missions attended in the critical care cars, are funded solely by donations from organisations and individuals. The emergency service costs more than £3 million a year to operate and receives no direct government funding.