Three doctors have flown in from across the world to join an air ambulance service.

They will fly out to the scene of accidents and other medical emergencies to provide crucial early care for seriously ill and injured patients.

The Sussex Air Ambulance, which also covers Kent and Surrey, was one of the first air ambulances to provide doctors as well as paramedics.

The service was flooded with applications from top-ranking medics all over the globe for the highly sought-after positions.

One of those chosen, South African Colin Mitchell, was at the start of a dream trip around the world when he saw the job advert. He persuaded his wife that they should postpone their trip for a year so that he could work with the air ambulance.

The second new team member is Dr Rosie Furse, who was previously specialist registrar in emergency medicine in Oxford and had also worked in Jersey and Western Australia. She regularly tours with the British Motorcycle Racing Team and is an extrication doctor for the F1 team at Silverstone.

The third member of the team is Richard Forbes, who emigrated from Perth, Australia, to the UK to take up the post.

An accident and emergency consultant, he has also worked as a doctor for Rally Australia and the Australian V8 Supercar Championship.

He said: "I had always wanted to live in the UK and my training for this role is ideal, so I applied.

"It is very similar to accident and emergency work. It's a very uncontrolled environment and the skills and knowledge needed are the same."

He said doctors can sometimes provide more specialised medical aid than paramedics, such as administering anaesthetics and putting patients on life support, which can give them an improved chance of survival.

Dr Forbes added: "Having the paramedics on board is also important because it's their home ground, and they have skills and expertise that we don't always have. We really complement each other's work."

Research has shown that in 15 per cent of cases having a doctor on board an air ambulance has made a crucial difference to a patient's chances of recovery.

David Philpott, chief executive of Sussex Air Ambulance and chairman of the Association of Air Ambulance Charities, said: "'We believe the unique combination of skills possessed by paramedics and doctors benefits the patient and enables us to save more lives.

"Across the UK more air ambulances are following this model and we believe that it will make a real difference to patient care."