Increased demand for Wiltshire Air Ambulance’s lifesaving work during 2023

By Nick Batten on 10 January, 2024

Wiltshire Air Ambulance undertook 1,167 missions across Wiltshire, Bath and surrounding areas in 2023, which represents a 10.6% increase on the previous year. 

The charity’s helicopter was used for 646 (55%) of the missions, with the remaining 521 incidents attended by critical care cars. 

A total of 292 patients were transferred to local hospitals (up from 263 in 2022), the majority of which to Royal United Hospital, Bath (85), Southmead Hospital, Bristol (69) and Great Western Hospital, Swindon (57). 

Wiltshire Air Ambulance’s Safety and Ground Operations Manager Richard Miller said, “We have a very dedicated aircrew – consisting of pilots, critical care paramedics and doctors – who respond to emergencies, on average, three times a day, 365 days a year. 

“These latest statistics show the need for our lifesaving service has sadly increased in the past 12 months and we could not do it without the amazing donors and local businesses who help raise the funds required to keep our air ambulance flying and saving lives. 

“As it says on the side of the helicopter, we are funded by you, flying for you, and we are extremely grateful for all the support we receive from the people of Wiltshire and Bath.” 

The largest number of callouts were to cardiac emergencies – 274, which equates to around a quarter of all missions. There were 231 road traffic collisions attended, plus 237 medical emergencies, 60 sporting incidents and 47 assaults. 

A total of 157 incidents involved children, while 34% of all missions (397) took place at night. 

The largest number of incidents Wiltshire Air Ambulance responded to were in the Swindon area – 181. The charity attended 96 missions in Bath, 85 in Chippenham and 70 in Salisbury. 

Other areas where the team were called to attend include: Amesbury – 14; Bradford-on-Avon – 13; Calne – 25; Chippenham – 85; Corsham – 24; Cricklade – 3; Devizes – 65; Malmesbury – 18; Marlborough – 32; Melksham – 51; Pewsey – 11; Royal Wootton Bassett – 17; Tisbury – 1; Tidworth – 6; Trowbridge – 68; Warminster – 38 and Westbury – 28. 

The aircrew were also tasked to incidents outside of its operational patch, including in counties such as Bristol, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Oxfordshire, Somerset and Worcestershire. In total, 24.6% of the incidents were outside of Wiltshire and Bath. 

Wiltshire Air Ambulance is a charity and receives no regular direct funding from the Government or National Lottery grants. 

Breakdown of incidents by month 

January – 79 February – 88 March – 84 April – 83 May – 113 June – 104 July – 105 August – 118 September – 104 October – 89 November – 86 December – 114 

Breakdown of incidents by category 

Cardiac – 23% Other medical conditions, including collapses and strokes – 20% Road traffic collisions – 20% Falls – 15% Sports (including horse riding) – 5% 

Pictured above: Wiltshire Air Ambulance critical care doctor Maria Smith on board the charity’s Bell 429 helicopter