Southampton General Hospital and the HELP Appeal this week celebrate the fifth anniversary of its life-saving onsite helipad. The hospital, which serves as the Major Trauma Centre for the region, has received over 1,750 patients since its launch in 2011.
With over half of its landings received from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance, the hospital provides specialist children’s services, in addition to dedicated department care for patients suffering strokes, heart attacks and other critical illnesses, for the south of England.
Prior to the delivery of a new helipad, the Air Ambulance had to land on a playing field at Lordshill, two miles away, where patients were transferred by road ambulance for the final part of the journey. This journey could take up to half an hour significantly increasing the amount of time it took to transfer critically ill patients to the Emergency Department of Southampton General Hospital.
The HELP Appeal is run by the County Air Ambulance Trust, which works to identify where helipads or base infrastructure are needed the most and offer assistance throughout the project, including feasibility studies. As the only charity in the UK dedicated to hospital helipads, they rely entirely on individual and organisational donations to provide the funding required.
Prof. Robert Crouch OBE, Consultant Nurse & Honorary Professor of Emergency Care, at Southampton General Hospital said: “We opened our first helipad five years ago, and since this date we’ve received over 1,750 patients from far and wide across the region. As a Major Trauma Centre, with several specialist departments, the onsite helipad has allowed us to ensure patients can receive the immediate treatment required, 24 hours a day 7 days a week. The avoidance of a lengthy road transfer has helped to reduce the time it takes to get these patients the expert care they so desperately need.
“The HELP Appeal’s £1 million donation to the helipad’s construction ensured we were able to get the project off the ground, and make such a difference to a huge number of critically ill or injured patients living across the South of England and further afield.”
Robert Bertram, Chief Executive of the HELP Appeal, said: “It is great to reach such an incredible milestone and to have helped save many lives by reducing the patient transfer time within that critical first hour.
“Time really does fly by, and I can’t believe it has been five years since we launched Southampton General’s helipad in 2011. Since then we have helped to fund the construction of 16 MTCs and A&E hospitals across the UK, with a further 20 hospitals planned. We continue as a charity to raise awareness for such a worthwhile cause and are dedicated to assisting the NHS in offering funding aid to develop these life-saving structures.
“We hope the next five years will see even more hospitals receive the benefit of an onsite helipad.”
David Sutton, Clinical Governance Lead,Hampshire and Isle of WightAir Ambulance, said: ‘‘The helipad provides a vital link between the Air Ambulance and the Major Trauma Centre, having a dramatic life-saving effect. As a direct result, in the past three years, trauma survival rates have increased by 63%. In addition, the helipad provides a life saving link for emergency transfers from St Mary’s Hospital on the Isle of Wight, allowing patients to receive the appropriate specialist care in their hour of need.”
Since 2009 the HELP Appeal has identified and helped to fund state of the art new helipads or upgrade existing infrastructure at 16 MTCs and A&E hospitals across the UK. The HELP Appeal works directly with each hospital to drive the project, providing substantial grants assistance throughout the project, including feasibility studies right through to launch.
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