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400 sign petition calling for 24/7 Alderney medevac flights

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MORE than 400 people have signed a petition for a 24-hour medevac service for Alderney.

The introduction of Dornier aircraft instead of Trislanders was one reason why the medevac contract was formalised. (Picture by Steve Sarre, 22330198)

‘The failure to provide round-the-clock cover and efficient evacuation puts health and life at risk,’ said organiser Sarah Postlethwaite.

‘Alderney citizens deserve the same standard of care as the rest of the Bailiwick where it is possible.’

She launched the petition after her own experiences in January.

It calls on the States of Guernsey to recognise that they have placed lives at risk, to restore a round-the-clock medevac service urgently and to invest in Alderney’s airport infrastructure so that it can benefit from the same medevac services which apply to the rest of the Channel Islands.

Many comments were left on the petition website supporting the 24-hour idea, saying it is a ‘vital service’ for islanders.

The word ‘need’ occurred often in the comments as it was believed 24-hour medevac was not only a service the Alderney community should have a right to, it is a necessity and a requirement for safety.

Concern was not just for Alderney locals, but visitors to the island as well.

Policy and Finance Committee chairman James Dent said his committee had been in touch with Health & Social Care over the medevac situation, saying it appeared to have deteriorated a little bit in the last couple of months.

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‘We would like a much more clear situation as to when Aurigny will be able to provide the services, because it seems to vary day by day, and when we have to go to other sources.

‘At about the time the petition was being started we were writing to HSC president Heidi Soulsby in regard to one or two cases that we had found a little bit disturbing.

‘Deputy Soulsby came back to us last week and she is very supportive of our position. It is her committee’s role to make sure we do have medevac facilities and in emergencies there are procedures for making sure we do have the services we need.

‘Deputy Soulsby’s position is she doesn’t have much control over what Aurigny does. She made that very clear.’

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Mr Dent said he hoped a ‘better deal’ would be reached when a public service obligation for air services was established.

Dr Sally Simmons, clinical director at Alderney’s only GP surgery, said she had concerns about the medevac situation and had raised them with the States of Alderney.

‘Certainly from my point of view, from a clinical point of view, we’ve got problems. I think that ultimately there’s going to be a big problem on the island if something happens here and we can’t use Aurigny for whatever reason,’ she said.

‘Their contract with us at the moment only gives a potential aircraft availability for less than 12 hours of the day and people don’t only have accidents during that period of time, quite clearly.’

She said GPs on Alderney had to be comfortable with managing emergency situations and possess the additional skills to deal with them.

‘It’s not necessarily because of Aurigny or anyone else; weather like fog is a big factor. Part of working on Alderney is about addressing patient expectations. If you choose to come and live here, you have to take the rough with the smooth.’

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