A SPECIALIST aircraft for transplant patients is to be stationed in the North East.
The King Air 200 will be used as a patient transfer and organ retrieval service, helping to reduce NHS transplant costs by a minimum of 22%.
The twin turbo-propelled plane is owned by IAS Medical and will be docked at Samson Aviation Terminal at Newcastle International Airport.
It is the first time in two decades an aircraft of this kind has been stationed in the region and it will be of huge benefit to patients living in the area.
Lynne Holt, transplant co-ordinator for the heart and lung programme at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital, said: “Having a plane like this based in the North East is great.
“It means it is more accessible for hospitals in the region to use and will also save thousands of pounds. Generally we have to pay to fly planes up from the south of England or Europe and this takes time and money.
“By having a specialist aircraft dedicated to transplant and patient transfer stationed in Newcastle it will allow us to get teams in the air quicker and we will be able to get a donor organ to hospital as fast as possible.”
Hospitals throughout the country can use the aircraft, but hospitals in the North East will get priority. From Newcastle, the King Air 200 can reach 95% of UK, Northern Ireland and Eire airports within one hour and the other 5% within an additional 10-20 minutes.
It can accommodate up to eight passengers or can be configured as a dedicated air ambulance carrying a Lifeport medical platform capable of supporting a patient up to and including intensive care unit cases, together with a medical team and companion. The aircraft is fully pressurised and operates up to 35,000 feet with a cruise speed of 275 mph and a range of 1,000 nautical miles.
George Ditchburn, of IAS Medical said: “We already provide a 24-hour, 365-day national and European patient transfer and organ retrieval service to the National Health Service Blood and Transplant, UK Transport for Transplant and local transplant coordinators.
“This dedicated King Air 200 will offer guaranteed availability and significantly reduce transplant costs to the NHS by a minimum of 22% while providing aviation procurement transparency.”
IAS Medical provides Air Ambulance Patient Flights to the NHS, British Government, insurance companies and private individuals around the world.