In March, we had the incredibly disappointing news that Stephen Harrhy, the Chief Ambulance Commissioner for Wales’ final recommendations into a review of Wales Air Ambulance services would result in the closure of Welshpool’s Air Ambulance base, writes Craig Williams MP.

This was sadly confirmed at the end of April, following a final vote by the NHS Wales Joint Commissioning Committee.

This will result in the closure of both Welshpool and Caernarfon’s bases after 2026, to be merged into a new North Wales site.

Despite extremely strong opposition from Mid Wales residents to the plans, a majority of Welsh health boards voted to accept the plans, with only Powys Teaching Health Board voting in opposition.

Like most of us in Montgomeryshire, I am devastated by this decision. I understand just how vital the Air Ambulance service is to our area, and alongside Russell George MS have campaigned strongly to keep Welshpool’s base open.


Over the years, many local residents have benefitted from this service, as well as donating to and fundraising for this vital lifeline, which proves its importance to Montgomeryshire. That is why the feedback process saw so many statements pleading for no change to the bases.

The idea that the “consolidation” of both bases into a single site in North Wales was ever going to cater to the medical needs of the people of Mid Wales was always a contentious one.

Make no mistake, the term “consolidation” was always code for cost-cutting, hence the almost immediate outrage from our community.

This will of course impact heavily upon Mid Wales patients’ access to urgent medical treatment.

Those who have voted in favour of the proposals have not considered the rural geography of our area, or that Montgomeryshire is larger in size than Greater London.

Even more puzzling has been the further recommendation by the Emergency Ambulance Services Committee to implement, in its place, a “special emergency road service” of Rapid Response Vehicles (RRV).

Not only would this option be deeply unsatisfactory for a rural area like Montgomeryshire, no-one can tell us how much it will actually cost! All it takes is for one extreme weather event or road closure to severely impact the ability of RRV’s to reach patients who are in need.

Indeed, the Welsh Chief Ambulance Commissioner’s own report shows that within an air-time of 30 minutes, Welshpool’s base covers 40 percent of Wales’ population, whereas the new proposed base in Rhuddlan would only cover 25 percent.

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How does that make sense? It doesn’t. The past 18 months have caused unnecessary anxiety and frustration for the people of Montgomeryshire over the future of a service they care passionately about.

But although this decision is a blow, we should absolutely not consider this as a final defeat in our fight to save Welshpool’s Air Ambulance.

We firmly believe the Welsh Government should now intervene and the proposals be called in for a decision to be taken by Welsh Government Ministers, following further debate within the Senedd.

We are also currently in discussions with local campaigners to discuss our next steps, which includes the possibility of a formal legal challenge to what has been an utterly shambolic process.

The fight to save Welshpool’s Air Ambulance base does not end here