Derriford Hospital helipad notches up 280 landings in its first year

Facility is helping to revolutionise emergency care

There have been more than 280 air ambulance and search and rescue helicopter landings at Derriford Hospital since the helipad was opened in June 2015.

Before the helipad was built, the hospital had to settle for a grassy set-down area for air ambulances beside A&E. But, as it was not suitable for larger search-and-rescue helicopters, their patients had to make a potentially-life-threatening secondary transfer by road from Plymouth Airport, which was due to close.

With a purpose-built helipad beside the emergency department, Derriford hospital has been able to accommodate all air ambulances and search-and-rescue helicopters within its grounds, as well as landings throughout the night for the past 12 months.

The Helicopter Emergency Landing Pads Appeal (HELP) contributed £850,000, which made the helipad’s construction possible.

Robert Bertram, its chief executive, said: “The HELP Appeal’s donation has made such a difference to a huge number of critically-ill patients who were rescued from across the South West.

“Time between incident and treatment in some injuries is critical. Minutes stuck in traffic can worsen conditions and, in some cases, cost lives. Every minute counts. With a fully-functioning helipad, search-and-rescue patients and seriously-ill patients that need to ne air lifted at night have been able to land beside the emergency department for the expert care they urgently need.”

Andrew Davies, facilities operations manager at Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, added: “The new helipad has made a huge difference to the way in which the hospital is able to receive and treat time-critical patients.

“This fantastic facility has made it easier for operators to land, has extended their ability to land at night if required and has meant that a far greater type of aircraft is able to use the helipad.

“It is hard the believe that only a year ago we were still reliant on a large piece of grass for operators to land. The new helipad looks as if it has always been there and its design and construction is a great credit to all those involved in its conception and delivery.”

And Paula Martin, chief executive of Cornwall Air Ambulance, said: “The new helipad facility has improved the safety and efficiency of the helicopter operations flying into and out of the region’s major trauma centre.

“The addition of this important infrastructure at Derriford has strengthened the entire region’s capability to deliver time-critical patients by helicopter to this hospital.”

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