AN air ambulance charity has been accused of confusing the Oxfordshire public over its purpose.

The Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance (TVCAA) has said it is concerned a new service set up for children does not make it clear it is not a medical emergency helicopter service.

The Children’s Air Ambulance, based at Coventry Airport and said to be 20 minutes away from Oxford by air, is used for pre-booked transfers between hospitals only and cannot make emergency flights to car crashes or other incidents.

It was launched at Eynsham Hall in West Oxfordshire in November as a charity service for youngsters, but as yet has not carried any patients.

TVCAA has said it is worried it is losing funds to the charity, claiming donors believe they are giving to an emergency service.

TVCAA Trust chief executive Yusuf Firat said: “The Children’s Air Ambulance will create a duplication of the service offered by the local air ambulance services and cause confusion for the well-wishing members of the public.”

But Charlotte Parker, spokesman for the Children’s Air Ambulance, said there was no confusion and the charities were very different.

She said: “This service is one of a kind; dedicated to providing emergency transfers for children already in hospital suffering from illnesses such as meningitis, severe burns or organ failure and in need of urgent and lifesaving care.”

The service hopes to begin carrying sick children from spring.

Since the start of 2012 TVCAA has carried out about 800 life-saving missions and 20 hospital transfers. Its annual running costs are £3m.