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06 May 2014

Helideck opens tomorrow (7 May)

Air ambulance providers from across the region have spent the last few weeks undergoing orientation test flight for the new helideck on the roof of the Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI). The last test flight finishes today (Tuesday 6 May) ahead of the helideck opening for service tomorrow (7 May).

The construction of the £3 million helideck is part of a wider programme of redevelopment and refurbishment currently underway across the BRI by University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust (UH Bristol). The helideck opening will coincide with the transfer of specialist children's services, including burns, neurosurgery, plastic, orthopaedic and emergency services, from Frenchay Hospital to Bristol Royal Hospital for Children on Wednesday.

The 25 x 25 metre aluminium helideck connects directly to services within the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children as well as the adult Emergency Department at Bristol Royal Infirmary. The Bristol Heart Institute will also receive patients transferred by helicopter for cardiac treatment.

Philip Cowburn, consultant in emergency medicine, said: "The new helideck will enable patients to be transferred rapidly and efficiently to specialist services in our hospitals from across the South West and will increase their chance of survival and a good recovery. It will support UH Bristol to fulfil its role as the Paediatric Major Trauma Centre for the South West and the Regional Centre for Primary Angioplasty [emergency treatment for a heart attack]."

A grant of £500,000 was provided by the HELP (Helicopter Emergency Landing Pads) Appeal to support the construction of the helideck

Robert Bertram, the charity's chief executive, said: "We are delighted to have supported the construction of this new helipad at Bristol Royal Infirmary, which is one of only a few hospital rooftop helipads in the UK. I would like to thank all of those people who continue to give money to this important cause.

"Our dream is that every major hospital across the country has access to a life-saving helipad, but we can't make these a reality without your support and donations."

A total of six air ambulance providers in the region will use the helideck to transport seriously ill and injured patients to hospital.

One provider, the Great Western Air Ambulance charity, is raising funds to replace its Bolkow 105 helicopter with a newer and larger Eurocopter 135. John Christensen, chief executive of the charity, says: "It is critically important that we upgrade our helicopter to be able to get our patients to the most appropriate hospital for their needs and continue offering a high standard of care for the people of the region that we serve. We need to raise an extra £500,000 every year to be able to operate a modern EC 135. We hope to be able to make this vital move by the end of August."