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19 September 2012

HELP Appeal supports construction of new helipad at Bristol Royal Infirmary

University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust (UH Bristol) and the Helicopter Emergency Landing Pads (HELP) Appeal will be working in partnership to develop an onsite helipad at the Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI), which will open in 2014. A grant of £500,000 has been provided by the HELP Appeal to support the helipad's construction - part of a major redevelopment at the BRI.   

The new helipad will receive air ambulances from Bristol and the surrounding areas - including Bath, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and South Wales - significantly speeding up transfer times for critically ill and injured patients being air lifted to the hospital for emergency care.   

Professor Jonathan Benger, consultant in emergency medicine at UH Bristol, said: "The funding for a new helipad at the hospital could not have come at a better time, as we are currently redeveloping the BRI and building an extension to the children's hospital to accommodate additional specialist paediatric services when those transfer from Frenchay Hospital in 2014.   

"A helipad at the Trust providing quick access to our adult and children's emergency departments and specialist emergency services will save lives and give our patients, many of whom are children, a much better chance of survival and recovery. We are therefore extremely grateful for the HELP Appeal's support in ensuring this critical development is up and running by 2014." 

The helipad and why Bristol needs one

Construction of the helipad is expected to begin in November 2012 and it should be open for use in 2014, following the completion of the redevelopment of the BRI and the centralisation of specialist paediatric services at the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children (BRHC). An extension is currently being built at the BRHC to accommodate children's burns and neuroscience services when they move from Frenchay Hospital in 2014. All specialist paediatric services in Bristol will then be based at the children's hospital.

Currently, all airlifted patients with serious injuries, critical illness, heart and artery failures must be transferred to a safe landing site nearby (for example, a designated landing site on Clifton Downs) before being moved by road ambulance to the BRI or BRHC. Transfers such as these take time, can dramatically increase the distances the patient has to travel and can be potentially life threatening. The new helipad will mean that these secondary transfers are no longer necessary.    

Doctors know how vital it is that patients get access to the specialist treatment they need within the first 60 minutes of a major accident or medial emergency. The new helipad will considerably speed up patient transfers and will improve access to the specialist treatments and services provided by UH Bristol.  The helipad, which will be located on the rooftop of the BRI Queen's Building, already has planning permission and will connect directly to the Adult Emergency Department as well as services within the BRHC via a dedicated lift, allowing fast and efficient transfer of patients, the majority of which will be children and infants. The Bristol Heart Institute will also receive patients transported to the helipad for cardiac services.   

The helipad at UH Bristol will be the fifth onsite helipad that the HELP Appeal has helped to finance through its grant scheme. The Appeal has previously funded helipads at Oswestry Spinal Injuries, Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, Southampton General Hospital, and recently announced that it will be giving a £1 million grant to St. George's Hospital in Tooting, London, to fund a new rooftop helipad which is due to be completed in 2013.   

Robert Bertram, charity director at County Air Ambulance Trust, commented: "Although this is our fifth project, it is the first that connects directly to a specialist children's hospital. We are really enthusiastic about offering this grant which will allow UH Bristol to considerably speed up transfer times for its patients, particularly in the case of infants and children.   

"There is a significant lack of hospital helipads across the country and for this reason we are currently in discussions with roughly 20 hospitals about how we can help fund their helipad needs. You never know when you or someone you love may need a lifesaving helipad. That is why we're urging people and businesses to get behind the appeal and donate whatever they can by calling 0800 389 8999 or visiting We rely solely on charitable donations so every penny counts."