UK HELP Appeal helipads mark 20,000 landings

UK HELP Appeal helipads mark 20,000 landings

14-Jun-2022 Source: HELP Appeal

 

The HELP Appeal, which is the only charity in the country dedicated to funding NHS hospital helipads, announces that over 20,000 landings have been made on the NHS hospital helipads it has funded. It has donated over £40 million so far towards 45 helipads in total, which also includes 25 new helipads and major upgrades of 20 more across the country. But there are still over 40 helipad projects in the pipeline which will cost £30 million over the next five years.

20,000th landing from air ambulance patient Dave Matravers

On the day of his accident, Dave Matravers, 52, a podium finisher at the Isle of Man Grand Prix and a well-known name on the classic scene, was doing a warmup lap at the Brands Hatch racetrack, when his motorbike became a “little bit temperamental” and stalled suddenly. Dave says: “As it was a practice lap, it shouldn’t have been that dangerous, but I suppose any stalling on a racetrack is bad news.  The first thing I did was to desperately wave my hands around to warn people that I was ‘dead in the water’ so to speak.”

However soon afterwards, a motorbike travelling at 70 mph, collided with Dave, the force of which propelled him into the air, before he was hit again by another rider. He explains, “I knew then that my legs had snapped, and I was in a pretty bad way. But I thought if I could just pull myself forward with my arms, I could straighten my legs. But the medics, who were straight on the scene told me not to move. I was dropping in and out of consciousness, not sure whether I was dead or alive.”

According to Dave, his legs “were a little messed up,” but the role of the HELP Appeal funded helipad at King’s College Hospital was “huge” in getting him to emergency care quickly.

Dave is doubtful for the first time in his life about whether he’ll ever race again: “I was in the Gulf War, so I’ve been in very intense situations before, but this accident has affected me more than I realise. I was due to compete in more races across the country, but I honestly don’t know when I’ll get back to riding again. This one hurt and I don’t know if I can keep bouncing back. I have managed it a few times, but I think I’m getting old…”

Support from actor Hugh Grant

Hugh Grant also understands the benefits of emergency landing pads after he – along with the HELP Appeal – funded a permanent emergency helipad in the remote Highland community of Applecross. It was built in memory of Bethany Walker, who sadly died when she was 18 years old in 2018 from flu and sepsis, after being airlifted from the village in to Raigmore Hospital, Inverness in 34 mins – a journey that usually takes 2 hours by road. At that time there was no permanent helipad in the village. He says:

“Over 20,000 landings confirm how essential hospital helipads are across the country for people whose lives are in danger. Every second counts during an emergency, and a helipad right beside the Emergency Department saves time, which helps to give patients the best possible outcome. Well done to the HELP Appeal for making this happen as many lives have been saved and many more will be in the future.”

Robert Bertram, Chief Executive of the HELP Appeal adds: ““As the only charity in the country funding helipads at NHS Hospitals, we are dedicated to helping to save lives and it is enormously rewarding to have achieved this milestone figure on the 25 new helipads we have funded. In addition to this are the 20 helipads we have helped to improve by funding larger and night lit helipads which accommodate night flying, bigger helicopters and helping to save even more lives.

Helipads are lifesavers and an important link between air ambulances and hospital Emergency Departments to give a patient the best possible chanceAny delays can significantly change a patient’s outcome as saving time really does save lives.”

Helipad’s role in saving lives –  a clinician’s perspective

Dr Malcolm Tunnicliff, Clinical Director for Major Trauma, King’s College Hospital, London explains the importance of helipads:

“It’s an established fact that helipads improve patient outcomes as there are risks to patients who, after landing in an air ambulance, have to finish their journey with a life-threatening secondary transfer to hospital by road ambulance, if there is no helipad at the hospital.

“The delay in treatment and movement are both contributory factors. Risks include major physiological derangement, prolonged hospital stays, blood clots, physical injury – including an increased risk of clotting – and death.”

Common hospital treatments for helipad patients

According to Rob Bentley, Clinical Director, South East London Kent and Medway Major Trauma Network, road traffic accidents, falls and penetrating injuries are usually the main reasons that patients need to be air-lifted to a hospital helipad, as they can cause crush injuries, fractures, brain injuries, extensive blood loss and cardiac arrests, all of which can be life threatening.

“Helipad patients are often classed as ‘code red’ meaning that they require life-saving blood products, such as a blood transfusion, as soon as they arrive in the Emergency Department. They can also often require an emergency CT scan so that the hospital can assess them for tissue and bone injuries.”

“Minutes make all the difference for patients suffering from critical illnesses and injuries. If they are treated more quickly, their chances of recovery and survival improve dramatically. This is why a helipad beside the Emergency Department is vitally important.”

Helipad projects

Since 2009, the HELP Appeal has funded 25 new helipads, including at King’s College Hospital, Aintree University Hospital and Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Glasgow. It has also funded the major upgrades of 20 hospital helipads including at Royal Preston Hospital, Leeds General Infirmary and Raigmore Hospital, Inverness.

More recently, helipads opened at Hull Royal Infirmary; Hereford County Hospital and the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital in 2020; while Manchester University Hospital, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Campbeltown Hospital plus the permanent emergency helipad in Applecross on the Isle of Skye opened in 2021.

In 2022 alone, new and upgraded helipads became operational at Scarborough Hospital, Peterborough City Hospital and Coventry University Hospital.  These 10 helipads – including four at Major Trauma Centres – became operational over the past three years after £5,077,000 was donated by the HELP Appeal.

Looking ahead, the HELP Appeal is funding helipads at Airedale General in Keighley which will open later this year; and Sheffield Children’s Hospital and Salford Royal Hospital, which plan to open in 2023. It is also funding upgrades to existing helipads at Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle and University Hospital Cross house, Kilmarnock, which are expected to open in 2022.

Despite already having 40 more hospital and air ambulance base helipad projects in the pipeline, HELP Appeal’s Chief Executive, Robert Bertram says that more can always be done:

“Our door is always open to hospitals that may wish to fund a new or upgraded helipad in the future. These projects can take months or years to come to fruition, so the sooner we are contacted the better.”

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