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With over 500 flights each year it’s quite common to see helicopters arriving and taking off from the helipad based at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, and this much used facility is about to undergo an upgrade.
The upgrade will allow the helipad to meet the increasing demands of larger and more frequent aircraft use, as well as new standards such as landing lights.
At a cost of just under £600,000 this upgrade is available thanks to two charitable donations.
A financial grant of £480,000 has been offered to NHS Highland from the HELP Appeal – the only charity in the country dedicated to funding hospital helipads.
Robert Bertram, CEO of the HELP Appeal, said, “The upgrade of Raigmore Hospital’s helipad is now our seventh project in Scotland, with hospital helipads in Glasgow, Edinburgh and four Highland and Island helipads under the charity’s belt.
“The HELP Appeal is committed to ensuring that this helipad is fit for purpose, so patients can land safely and quickly, to access the emergency care they urgently need. This is why there was no hesitation in completing the funding required for this much needed upgrade.”
Dr. Andrew Rowlands, consultant in emergency medicine and clinical lead for the emergency department, explained that the helicopter is an essential feature for Raigmore and NHS Highland and the investment into upgrading the helipad will benefit the entire population.
He said, “The helipad at Raigmore Hospital serves as an essential time and life saving facility on which the entire population of the Highlands and Islands may depend, not only due to the enormous area served by NHS Highland but also the distance covered and the remote locations.
“I am very grateful for these donations which will ensure the helipad we have on site is fit for the future.”
The upgrade is also receiving just under £120,000 from the Highland Health Board Endowment Fund after the trustees approved the funding application at their July meeting.
Ann Pascoe, non-executive director to the board and chair of the Endowment Committee, said, “As trustees, the bottom line for us is that any successful application must clearly demonstrate patient benefit. In this case the criteria is fulfilled not only from a Raigmore perspective, but also for those rural patients who have cause to use the hospital. I am delighted we are in a position to fund the helipad application.”
The 12-week program of works, which will be carried out by Kier Construction, has already started. Visitors to the site will see the temporary helipad which has been set up next to the permanent site.
While this work is ongoing aircraft will be landing on the temporary helipad. For health and safety reasons it will not be possible to park cars on or near the pavements surrounding this site. Where possible security will also be manning this to ensure there are no health and safety issues.
The work is expected to be completed by November 2018.