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Magpas Air Ambulance
Magpas Logo.png
Formation1 January 1971; 48 years ago (1971-01-01)
Legal statusRegistered Charity 1119279
PurposeEmergency Medical Provision
HeadquartersHuntingdon, Cambridgeshire, England
Coordinates52°19′55″N 0°03′47″W / 52.332007°N 0.063123°W / 52.332007; -0.063123
Region served
East Anglia, England
Revenue (2015)
£3.5 million
Expenses (2015)£3.1 million
Staff (2015)
Volunteers (2015)
The current MD902, G-HMDX in previous 'HELIMEDIX' livery.

Magpas Air Ambulance is an emergency medical charity that provides pre-hospital care by land and air to patients in life-threatening emergencies in the East of England and beyond. The charity is based in Cambridgeshire and is activated to serious medical incidents, using either the air ambulance or rapid response vehicle, across 11 other counties – Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Oxfordshire and London.

It trains, equips and a doctor-paramedic team which it is able to deploy to a medical emergency, illness or accident where the NHS Ambulance Service asks for on-scene medical support.


Magpas Air Ambulance was founded as the Mid Anglia General Practitioner Accident Service in 1971 by Dr Neville Silverston OBE and Dr Derek Cracknell,[1] who responded to road accidents in their own cars.

The origins of the name relate to a close historical and geographical association with Cambridgeshire Constabulary which, until 1974, was known as the Mid-Anglia Constabulary; the service was originally provided by General Practitioners from across the Mid Anglia area that was activated by the police and ambulance services to attend serious accidents and provide on-scene care. Magpas provided the training, equipment and governance framework; the organisation became a registered charity in 1972.[2] The charity is now simply known as Magpas Air Ambulance after acquiring its own helicopter in 2013.[3]

Within the first five years that Magpas was operational the road accident fatality rate in Mid Anglia fell by 36%.

In 1977, Magpas contributed to the foundation of the British Association for Immediate Care (BASICS) to raise and maintain the standards of care given by doctors responding to medical emergencies. Today BASICS is a recognised authority on pre-hospital immediate care and Magpas has remained a member ever since; as NHS Ambulance Service Paramedics developed so did the charity. It undertook detailed research into its effectiveness and reviewed the way it operated.

In 1997 the charity entered a new partnership with Cambridgeshire Constabulary to use the Police Helicopter for helicopter deployment of medical staff and patient transport.[1]

In 1999, Magpas Air Ambulance became the first service in the region to provide a night-time helicopter emergency medical service.

In 2007 the East Anglian Air Ambulance agreed to provide an Air Ambulance helicopter, dubbed Anglia Two, to be based out of RAF Wyton for Daytime missions.[4] Although this was withdrawn in 2010, and Magpas Air Ambulance went back to providing the whole service, in conjunction with the Police.

From 2000 until 2010 the charity developed a network of Community First Responder Schemes across Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire; these local volunteers were trained by Magpas and then responded to medical emergencies such as chest pain and breathing difficulties in their local area. Their role was to treat the patient until the ambulance service arrived. In 2010 the Magpas Air Ambulance First Responders were joined with other schemes under the leadership of the East of England Ambulance Trust who will now look after the scheme.

In 2010, East Anglian Air Ambulance announced plans for their helicopter service which would no longer rely on Magpas volunteers.[5] In 2012, Magpas Air Ambulance began flying with its own helicopter, having paid to use a police helicopter for the preceding fifteen years.[6]

The charity was heavily involved in the creation of Pre-Hospital Emergency Medicine (PHEM), a sub-specialty of Emergency Medicine and Anesthesia recognised by the General Medical Council. Doctors train with Magpas in giving people facing serious medical emergencies lifesaving procedures and treatments which are not normally available outside of a hospital

Magpas was registered with the Healthcare Commission[7] and was inspected by the Care Quality Commission in March 2014;[8] this means the governance and quality assurance of the care it provides meets national standards.

In October 2015, Magpas Air Ambulance announced it would provide a 24 hour service for emergency medical care and advice, although the helicopter is not available at all times. By doing so, it became the first air ambulance charity in the East of England region to offer round-the-clock care.[9]


In 1989 the Diploma in Immediate Medical Care was established with the help of a Magpas doctor, it tests the knowledge, skills and behaviours of pre-hospital emergency care practitioners. To date, all Magpas doctors and paramedics must have passed this Diploma.

In partnership with the University Hospital of Leicester, Magpas Air Ambulance runs CTARP (the Cambridge Trauma and Audit Research Project); this project looks to identify lessons from all cases of traumatic injury occurring in Cambridgeshire. This can then be used to improve the quality of care and examine ways to prevent incidents in the first place.[10]

Facts and figures[edit]

  • Magpas Air Ambulance has attended over 60,000 patients since it was founded in 1971.
  • In 2015, Magpas Air Ambulance responded to 941 callouts for advanced care, treating patients in 12 counties across the East of England and beyond.
  • The most common incidents the medical team are called to are road traffic collisions, cardiac arrests and falls.
  • In 2014 the charity reported an income of £3.5m with outgoings slightly less than this.[11]
  • In 2014 the charity employed 12 people and had 300 volunteers.[11]


  1. ^ Barrett, Hywel (17 August 2014). "OBITUARY: Founder of Huntingdonshire charity Magpas Dr Derek Cracknell MBE". The Hunts Post. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
  2. ^ "Charity Commission Removed Charity Mid Anglia General Practitioner Accident Service". Charity Commission. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
  3. ^ ITV Anglia. "New air ambulance takes to the skies". Retrieved 24 October 2016.
  4. ^ Charity Commission Return 2009 (PDF), Magpas, July 2010, retrieved 13 October 2010
  5. ^ "East Anglian Air Ambulance drops Magpas volunteers". BBC News. 27 October 2010.
  6. ^ "Magpas medical charity to get own helicopter". BBC News. 18 April 2012.
  7. ^ "Regulatory Assessment Statement 2008/2009" (PDF). Retrieved 30 August 2016.
  8. ^ "Providers: Archived: Magpas - East of England". Care Quality Commission. Retrieved 30 August 2016.
  9. ^ Lamy, Joel (2 October 2015). "Magpas launches first 24/7 emergency care service of its kind in the East of England". Peterborough Today. Retrieved 30 August 2016.
  10. ^ Research, Magpas, retrieved 13 October 2010
  11. ^ a b "Magpas accounts to 31 December 2015". Charity Commission. Retrieved 24 October 2016.

External links[edit]