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Wiltshire Air Ambulance left waiting for Salisbury Poisonings compensation

Wiltshire Air Ambulance is still to receive compensation for the costs incurred by the charity when responding to the Salisbury and Amesbury nerve agent attacks over two years ago.

As the nation last night tuned into the start of the BBC’s dramatic recreation of the nerve agent poisonings of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury in 2018, most could be forgiven if they thought that the “first on the scene” emergency service, Wiltshire Air Ambulance, had now closed that unhappy chapter and had moved on in the business of saving lives, day in day out. Sadly, that is not the case.

Now, more than two years after attending both the Salisbury nerve agent attack and a few weeks later the Amesbury incident where Dawn Sturgess tragically lost her life, the charity is still waiting for Government to compensate it for the £100,000-plus of costs it incurred during and after the incident.

In February, all seven Wiltshire MPs, including the Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland wrote to the Home Secretary, in support of this claim but to date the charity has heard nothing.

Wiltshire Air Ambulance chief executive David Philpott said: “Obviously, we appreciate the Government has had a lot to deal with in recent months as it has battled to get Coronavirus under control. The last thing we have wanted to do is add to their problems, but the broadcast of this TV drama has brought the matter into sharp focus for many of our trustees, staff and volunteers. 

“You cannot expect medics to put themselves in harm’s way, as ours did, and then simply forget about them and the costs our organisation has borne. Wiltshire Air Ambulance is a charity that relies entirely on donations and yet is the only emergency service not to have been compensated by the government for its losses. 

“We are pleased that the Department of Health and Social Care recently announced a £6 million COVID-19 grant to be shared by all 21 air ambulance charities, although we are still unsure how much we will receive from this grant. However, I think it is very unfortunate that the Salisbury compensation matter seems to have been ignored, despite the support from all of our local MPs, and we will not give up this matter lightly.”

Photo credits – Terry Donnelly.

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