New Castle Donington ambulance hub opened by HRH The Princess Royal

Thursday 12 October 2023: A new St John Ambulance hub in Castle Donington was officially opened by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal on 10 October and will see the charity work even more efficiently and closely with its partners.

The new hub brings different specialisms together in one place to support the delivery of all St John Ambulance activity, as well as the six services that make up the NHS Midlands Critical Care Transfer Services (MCCTS) which sees the transfer of critically ill people between hospitals for specialist treatment.

Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal has opened the hub and unveiled a plaque which states the official opening of the building. 

Whilst at the event Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal was given a tour of the building, showcasing the different equipment, transport and lifesaving technology that is used by the teams when they are called upon.

Working together in one building gives the teams a better understanding of how they each work and allows smoother communication and partnership working between the partners.

At the opening, schoolchildren from St Edward’s Church of England Primary School in Castle Donington attended and showed Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal their expertise by demonstrating how to perform CPR and other vital lifesaving skills during a Restart a Heart session.

Poppy, the Regional Cadet of the Year for the East Midlands at St John Ambulance, gave a speech on the benefits of being involved in the charity as a volunteer, not just for themselves but for the good of the wider community and how it can help people in more ways than one.

Craig Harman, Director of Health and Volunteering Operations at St John Ambulance, said: It’s an honour to welcome Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal to officially open the Castle Donington hub which, in addition to the amazing partnership work we’ve already established with the NHS through our ambulance auxiliary contract, will help us to further our great work together, including providing a more efficient and targeted service to those that need us most.

“We are proud of the services we operate and strive to offer the best possible experience and patient journey along the way, and this new hub can help us do that.”

The NHS Midlands Critical Care Transfer Services (MCCTS) are six Midlands regional specialist critical care transfer services caring for neonatal, paediatric critical care, adult critical care and highly specialised mobile extracorporeal membrane oxygenation care. They provide time critical and urgent transport services supporting the region’s most critically unwell patients 24/7 and 365 days a year. 

The services conduct over 5,000 transfers a year and cover hundreds of thousands of miles to support these patients. The new MCCTS base in Castle Donington was developed following the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure a centralised dedicated facility in the East Midlands to support the services’ work and to improve response times to patients across the region.

It also offers the NHS’s first dedicated critical care transfer education facility which will help develop future generations of critical care transfer staff in the region and wider nationally.

The service in the East Midlands in managed by University Hospitals Leicester NHS Trust, with clinical staff from many other NHS Acute Trusts working in the team and is in partnership with St John Ambulance.

Matthew Day, Regional Specialised Commissioning Director with NHS England in the Midlands said: “The pandemic demonstrated the need for a critical care transfer service, and MCCTS is the result – transferring 5,000 patients a year across the Midlands and sometimes beyond to hospitals that offer them specialist care, and then also bringing them back again.

“We are delighted to see the development of the East Midlands hub, which will help the service run more smoothly with sharing of information. It is a great honour to have this recognised with a visit by HRH The Princess Royal.”

Community first aid saves lives and there are amazing teams of people volunteering and working for St John Ambulance and the NHS who together are saving lives on a regular basis, as well as leading the way for our young volunteers who provide an unbelievable amount of support to the charity in so many different ways.