CAMPAIGNERS have expressed fears for the future of Wiltshire's Air Ambulance following news that the service is to be reviewed.

Health chiefs at Great Western NHS Ambulance Service (GWAS) have refused to renew a five-year lease on the helicopter, and have offered a one-year deal instead, until a clinical review' is carried out.

Ann Levick, a non-executive director of Wiltshire Ambulance NHS Trust, has raised fears that the review could lead to the air ambulance service, based in Devizes, being replaced with a three-county service operated out of Filton.

GWAS have denied the claims, saying there are no plans to axe the service.

The present Wiltshire air ambulance, which works in conjunction with Wiltshire Police, can reach anywhere in the county within eight minutes. This would take longer if the service was operated out of Filton, north of Bristol, as Mrs Levick fears.

"They (GWAS) only want to commit to one year and this is a problem for the police," she said.

"While we have a shared venture with the police we are the only county that has seven days' coverage with 19 hours' flying.

"The alternative being considered by GWAS Trust is a dedicated air ambulance for the Great Western Trust, covering three counties and based possibly at Filton."

In response to the concerns Victoria Eld, a spokesman for GWAS, said: "We want to find the best clinical model available to improve the service to the people of Wiltshire, not remove it.

"The Filton-based air ambulance has been set up in response to an identified gap in air ambulance cover for the people of Avon. This is an addition to the air ambulance cover in Wiltshire, not a replacement."

The parents of Melksham woman Michelle Phillips, who died, aged 26, in a three-car crash in Devon in April 2004, raised more than £12,000 for the air ambulance in their daughter's memory. The service needs £350,000 of donations a year to keep going.

Mum Sandra Phillips, 60, of Halifax Road, Bowerhill, said: "We are obviously upset about it all. We are going to try as hard as we can to do our bit to save it. We have got to do this as well for Michelle. You just never know when you might need something like this."

Jerry Poolman, 46, of Codford, near Warminster, thought he would never walk again or have children after he was crushed by a half-tonne hay bale on his small farm in 1991.

Mr Poolman, now a father-of-two, was taken by the air ambulance to Salisbury District Hospital within minutes and the prompt treatment he received meant he was taking his first steps just a couple of months later. "If it wasn't for them giving me the treatment at the time I think it would have been a different story," he said.

"When I found out the news I thought blimey, the last thing you want to do is merge it'.

"I think there will be a lot more fatalities with them not being able to get there quickly enough."