Emergency and intensive care specialists were joined by former patients today (Thursday) for the first helicopter landing at Southampton General Hospital.
Following eight weeks of construction, a crew from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance completed a test flight to check landing and take-off on the site’s new £1.2m helipad before leaving within minutes for the first patient retrieval on the Isle of Wight.
The development forms part of University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust’s designation as one of the country’s major trauma centres, which means staff in the emergency department and intensive care unit now treat more critically ill patients from across Hampshire, Wiltshire, Dorset and other parts of the UK.
The helipad, which is located on top of the main car park, cuts up to 30 minutes from the time it takes to transfer patients by air ambulance to hospital – the air ambulance previously landed on a playing field two miles away in Lordshill with patients transferred by road for the remainder of the journey.
Dr Andy Eynon, director of major trauma at UHSFT, said: “The helipad will save lives and improve outcomes for a wide range of patients across Hampshire – including the Isle of Wight – Wiltshire, Dorset and beyond and is one of the few helipads in the UK that can receive critically ill patients 24 hours a day.
“And, in addition to providing more rapid access to care for patients suffering strokes, heart attacks and other critical illnesses, as UHSFT serves as the major trauma centre for the region and provides specialist children’s services for the whole of the south of England, the helipad will give many more people access to the urgent specialist care they require.”
The Helicopter Emergency Landing Pads (HELP) Appeal, established by the County Air Ambulance Trust to help fund helipad facilities at hospital across the UK, provided support to get the project running and has now launched a fundraising campaign to meet the £1m cost.
Robert Bertram, charity director at County Air Ambulance Trust, said: “It’s fantastic to finally see the completed helipad in place and the first helicopter successfully land on it.
“The new helipad is a crucial piece of life-saving equipment for the hospital and it will play a key role in saving the lives of critically ill patients across the region and the south of England.
He added: “We are extremely proud to be part of the project and to be able to say that, thanks to the HELP Appeal and the support of UHSFT and the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance, Southampton General Hospital now has an onsite, life-saving helipad.”
The HELP Appeal relies entirely on charitable donations and fundraising. For more information on the Southampton HELP Appeal, call 0800 3898 999 or visit www.helpappeal.co.uk
Posted on Thursday 17 November 2011