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Update to the regulation of air ambulances

26 August 2015
  • Public

CQC and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have updated their memorandum of understanding (MoU) in light of recent changes in legislation to the regulation of air ambulances.

Previously, we were given the responsibility of regulating all aircraft that transported people who require treatment jointly with the CAA. All providers of air ambulance services needed to be registered with us.

Changes to legislation now mean that if an air ambulance operator is only providing the transport element of the service (without providing the medical care), it falls out of the scope of our regulation and no longer needs to be registered with us. In these cases, the CAA is still responsible for regulating the aircraft and air crew.  

The majority of air ambulances are run as charities and they arrange and fund the aircraft lease agreements. These agreements make sure that aircraft and air crew (pilots) are available to transport NHS patients, but a different organisation is responsible for carrying out the medical treatment (known as regulated activity or the treatment of disease, disorder or injury (TDDI)).

While the organisations supplying the staff who carry out medical treatment on the aircraft (such as paramedics, nurses or doctors) are still required to be registered with us, the air ambulance itself does not.

There are only two air ambulance providers that still require CQC registration relating to 'transport services, triage and medical advice provided remotely', as they provide  both the TDDI and transport element. This is the case where charities employ clinical staff and are responsible for the care being delivered. 

Last updated:
29 May 2017