One of the challenges facing the NHS was how to maintain emergency services, while supporting patients within hospital who had the COVID-19 illness. The pandemic placed a large emphasis on hospitals’ delivery of intensive care. The possibility of redeploying our NHS doctors, nurses and paramedics who specialise in providing intensive and emergency care, was raised by our NHS clinical networks. The fact that Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance is a SWASfT NHS frontline asset, that patients continued to be severely injured and ill outside of hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic and that these patients continued to need critical care support, all played into the consideration of deployment of clinical resources.

In close collaboration with the ambulance service and all of the NHS hospitals in Dorset and Somerset, it was decided that our highly-specialist clinicians, including our intensive care doctors, would continue to provide pre-hospital critical care via Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, until such time that the needs of the region shifted overwhelmingly towards hospital-based care. This explicit, proactive, NHS networked response has enabled us to continue providing an unchanged prehospital critical care service throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This has resulted in many patients’ lives being saved who might otherwise have been lost.

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