St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust announced today, Tuesday 18th September, that it has been granted formal planning permission to develop a helipad at St George’s Hospital in Tooting. It will be only the second hospital helipad in London and the first south of the river. The development will be partly funded through a grant of £1million from the County Air Ambulance Trust HELP (Helicopter Emergency Landing Pad) Appeal.

The facility will be built on the rooftop of St James Wing, with direct lift access to the hospital’s state-of-the-art accident and emergency department. It will support air ambulances bringing the most seriously injured casualties for emergency treatment at the hospital, which provides the Major Trauma Centre for the South West London and Surrey Trauma Network.

The helipad will also dramatically increase the number of emergencies that the Air Ambulance Services can attend across the region*.

Heather Jarman, clinical director for major trauma at St George’s, said: “We are at a pivotal time in the development of trauma care systems. With the emergence of Major Trauma Centres and rapid transfers, patients are getting the life-saving care they need, quicker than ever before. Helicopters are essential to the success of these systems. The helipad at St George’s Hospital will be only the second in London – a crucial addition to the healthcare infrastructure in the capital and the wider system.

“For a patient with life-threatening injuries, the key to improving their chance of survival is to get them as quickly as possible to a Major Trauma Centre, like St George’s Hospital, where facilities and expertise are concentrated to treat them. At the moment, air-lifted patients from South West London and Surrey often travel past St George’s Hospital, which naturally delays their care at a time when every second counts.

“The trust is very grateful to the HELP Appeal for the support they are providing to ensure that this vital development is up and running in 2013.”

Robert Bertram, charity director at County Air Ambulance Trust, said: “This is our third helipad project in England and we are delighted that the HELP Appeal is able to assist St George’s Hospital. The new onsite helipad will help to save the lives of many patients across South West London and Surrey.

“We rely solely on charitable donations and do not receive any financial support from the Government or the National Lottery so we’re urging people and businesses to get behind the appeal and donate whatever they can by calling 0800 389 8999 or visiting You never know when you or one of your loved ones may need this vital service. Your donations will help to save many lives.”

Building work for the helipad, which will cost £4million in total, is scheduled to commence in December 2012 and it could be operational by summer 2013.

Notes to editors

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HELP Appeal

The Helicopter Emergency Landing Pad (HELP) Appeal was established by the County Air Ambulance Trust to help raise funds for much needed hospital helipad facilities across the country. Only a small number of hospital have onsite helicopter landing pads and this means that transfer times are increased. Most air ambulance patients have to be transferred by road for part of their journey which takes time and can often mean a life threatening transfer is needed from the helicopter to the road ambulance.

The HELP Appeal is aiming to significantly increase the number of onsite hospital helipads through its HELP Appeal grant scheme which offers non-repayable grants to hospitals to help fund new and/or existing hospital helipad facilities.

The HELP Appeal relies solely on charitable donations and does not receive a single penny in government funding or from the National Lottery so please do help and donate what you can. The Appeal provides non-repayable grants to hospitals looking to build their own helipads, and St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has received a £1 million HELP Appeal grant to help fund the new onsite helipad, which is estimated to cost a total of £4 million.

Call the donation helpline on 0800 389 8999, or visit the website or donating by text:

To donate via text type HPAD22 plus the amount into the message box.
So for donate £5 type HPAD22£5 (no spaces).
You can donate £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 – up to £30 a month.
Send your message to 70070 and your donation will be charged to your mobile bill.

What are trauma networks?

The idea behind trauma networks is that ambulance crews are trained to take patients to the nearest hospital with appropriate facilities to treat their injuries. This means that patients with the most severe injuries are identified and taken quickly to a major trauma centre, often bypassing the nearest hospital accident and emergency (A&E) department. Major Trauma Centres have all the specialist facilities and staff to care for patients with serious life-threatening injuries, such as stabbings, gunshot wounds and following serious road traffic accidents. Since becoming a major trauma centre in April 2010, St George’s has helped to save dozens of additional lives across London and the South East.

*How will this helipad help the air ambulance crew attend more casualties?

At the moment, if an air ambulance patient is taken to St George’s Hospital the crew has to travel with the patient by road ambulance. This means that the air ambulance returns to the base without a crew and cannot take another emergency call until the crew has returned. This new helipad will mean that the air ambulance services can get the patient to specialist care more quickly, but they can then also be available to immediately take another emergency call.

The helipad

The helipad will be the second hospital helipad in London and the first south of the river. The only existing hospital helipad in London is at the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel.

It will have direct lift access from the rooftop, some five storeys up, to St George’s state-of-the-art accident and emergency department on the ground floor of the building, making patient transfers from the helicopter to specialist care as quick and safe as possible.

The helipad will help to save lives and speed up the recovery of many people living and working in the region. It will support local air ambulance services – Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance and London’s Air Ambulance – by speeding up transfer times for the most seriously ill and injured. It will also help with the transfer of patients to and from the hospital for specialist treatment – know as a critical care to critical care transfers

The trust is aware that helicopter landings are associated with increased levels of noise and considered this issue during the planning phase of the project. During a hover test in December 2010, the trust surveyed staff and patients across St George’s Hospital and around 90 per cent either weren’t disturbed by helicopter noise or didn’t find it intrusive.

About St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust

  • St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is one of the largest healthcare providers in southwest London. Its main site, St George’s Hospital in Tooting – one of the country’s principal teaching hospitals – is shared with St George’s, University of London, which trains medical students and carries out advanced medical research. As well as acute hospital services, the trust provides a wide variety of specialist and community hospital based care and a full range of community services to children, adults, older people and people with learning disabilities. These services are provided from Queen Mary’s Hospital, Roehampton, 11 health centres and clinics, schools and nurseries, patients’ homes and Wandsworth Prison.
  • St George’s Hospital, Tooting, is one of London’s four major trauma centres. In 2011/12 the emergency department at St George’s Hospital treated an average 447 patients each day, with 95.06 per cent of patients being admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours.
  • St George’s Hospital is one of eight hyper acute stroke units in London. The trust’s stroke services were rated as the best in the country by the National Sentinel Audit 2010, and in the top four in 2011.
  • St George’s Hospital has one of the biggest and busiest of the eight heart attack centres in London. The heart attack centre at St George’s Hospital was rated as having the best response rate for treating heart attack patients in London in the 2012 Myocardial Ischaemia National Audit Project (MINAP).
  • The trust is an accredited centre of excellence for trauma, neurology, cardiology and cancer services, and the national centre for family HIV care and bone marrow transplantation for non-cancer diseases.
  • In 2011 the trust was named by the Dr Foster report for the Department of Health in the group of trusts with the lowest mortality rates in the country. The trust was one of only 14 in the country to have statistically significant lower than expected mortality rates.
  • The trust passed all national cancer treatment and diagnosis targets in 2011/12, improving the prospects for thousands of cancer patients.
  • In April 2012 the trust reported its lowest ever infection rates, with a 95 per cent reduction in MRSA over the last five years and only one MRSA bacteraemia (blood stream) infection in 2011/12.
  • The 2011 Care Quality Commission (CQC) national inpatient survey has confirmed that the trust is achieving results expected of a major healthcare provider, ranking ‘about the same’ as similar trusts in the country in all 77 survey questions.
  • The trust has returned a financial surplus for the last five years and has no historic debt. This has allowed the trust to invest in front line services and estate and facilities development, including the recent redevelopment of the A&E unit, the opening of a state-of-the-art regional breast cancer screening centre, and the development of a new pre-operative care centre. The trust is also developing state-of-the-art neurorehabilitation services at St George’s and Queen Mary’s Hospitals.