HELP Appeal funds helipad upgrade at Raigmore Hospital, Inverness

Boost will enable more flights and improvements to meet changing standards

With over 500 flights each year, it’s quite common to see helicopters arriving and taking off from the helipad at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.

And this much-used facility is about to undergo an upgrade.

The work will enable the helipad to meet the increasing demands of larger and more-frequent aircraft as well as new standards covering things such as landing lights.

At a cost of just under £600,000 the upgrade is being made possible thanks to two charitable donations.

A financial grant of £480,000 has been offered to NHS Highland from the HELP Appeal – the only charity in the country dedicated to funding hospital helipads.

Robert Bertram, chief executive of the HELP Appeal, said: “The upgrade of Raigmore Hospital’s helipad is now our seventh project in Scotland, with hospital helipads in Glasgow, Edinburgh and four Highland and Island helipads under the charity’s belt.

“The HELP Appeal is committed to ensuring that this helipad is fit for purpose so that patients can land safely and quickly to access the emergency care they urgently need.”

Dr Andrew Rowlands, a consultant in emergency medicine and clinical lead for the emergency department, added: “The helipad serves as an essential time and life-saving facility on which the entire population of the Highlands and Islands may depend, not only due to the enormous area served by NHS Highland, but also the distance covered and the remote locations.”

The upgrade is also receiving just under £120,000 from the Highland Health Board Endowment Fund after the trustees approved the funding application at their July meeting.

Ann Pascoe, non-executive director to the board and chairman of the endowment committee, said: “As trustees, the bottom line for us is that any successful application must clearly demonstrate patient benefit. In this case, the criteria is fulfilled not only from a Raigmore perspective, but also for those rural patients who have cause to use the hospital. I am delighted we are in a position to fund the helipad application.”

The 12-week programme of works, which will be carried out by Kier Construction, has already started.

While the work is ongoing aircraft will be landing on the temporary helipad.

The work is expected to be completed by November.

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