Building work has started on a new hospital helipad in a move expected to benefit hundreds of critically injured patients a year from Kent, Surrey and Sussex.
King’s College Hospital in London, previously featured in Channel 4’s 24 Hours in A&E, will boast the city’s third helipad serving 5.5million people across the South East.
The multi-million pound landing site will speed up the time it takes Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance to transfer patients to the Major Trauma Centre.
The air ambulance’s two helicopters currently land in a nearby park where patients are then transferred to King’s by road but the new heli-pad will be built on top of the hospital.
The cost of the new facility is being met in part by charitable donations from the County Air Ambulance Trust’s HELP (Helicopter Emergency Landing Pads) Appeal, as well as donations from fundraisers who supported the helipad’s Time is Life fundraising appeal. King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has also committed capital monies to the project.
Dr Malcolm Tunnicliff is a Governance Lead at Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance and Consultant in Emergency Medicine and Clinical Director for the Emergency Department at King’s.
He said: “These are exciting times for King’s, the patients we treat, and our staff who go above and beyond - day in, day out – to save people’s lives, and put them back on their feet.”
Company director Tony Gillam, from Oxted, suffered a traumatic brain injury following a motorbike accident in Sevenoaks, in August 2013.
The father-of-three had to be given emergency treatment at the road-side by the air ambulance’s doctor and paramedic before being flown to the specialist neurological unit at King’s.
He said: “The air ambulance saved me and allowed me to make such a remarkable recovery. The only thing I was horrified about when I was well enough to learn about it, was that the air ambulance was landing in a nearby park.”
Last year, Kent Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance crews took 344 patients to King’s. The charity also transfers patients to St George’s Hospital in Tooting and the Royal London Hospital at Whitechapel, which both have rooftop helipads, and there are plans to build a helipad at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton.
Robert Bertram, Chief Executive of the HELP Appeal, said: “We are delighted to see work starting on the new Helipad at King's and pleased that the HELP Appeal has been able to make donations of £2 million to help make the project possible.
"When a critical injury or accident takes place, every second is vital. The new helipad will help to ensure that patients get the fastest access to the often life-saving treatment they require. It will save many lives."
Rob Bentley, Director of Trauma at King’s, added: “King’s is already a Major Trauma Centre but, with the addition of a helipad on the hospital site, we will bring truly world-class trauma facilities to this part of London.”
The new helipad at King’s will take approximately a year to build, rising 50 metres above the ground on top of the hospital’s Ruskin Wing.
It will be made up of approximately 100 tonnes of steel and will be built off-site before being lifted into place when ready using one of the UK’s largest cranes.