New £40,000 helipad for Western Isles Hospital

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The emergency helicopter landing pad at Western Isles Hospital in Stornoway has had a state-of-the-art upgrade thanks to a £40,000 donation from the HELP (Helicopter Emergency Landing Pads) Appeal – the only charity in the UK dedicated to funding the construction of hospital helipads.

NHS Western Isles received the surprise cash injection from the HELP Appeal after the charity’s chief executive Robert Bertram read about the current state of the hospital’s helipad in a local newspaper article.

The need for an upgrade became obvious in July during a test landing of the new Bond helicopters which were being brought into service by the Scottish Ambulance Service. The stretchers on board these helicopters have automatic drop-down wheels which were incompatible with the surface, potentially causing vital time to be lost during emergency transfers.

At the time, NHS Western Isles Chief Executive Gordon Jamieson said the health board would be speaking to the Ambulance Service about options for upgrading the helipad – only to then get an approach, out of the blue, from the HELP Appeal.

They had soon pledged £40,000 for a complete upgrade. Now, the grass surface has been replaced with reinforced concrete paving and the lighting upgraded too.

It has been giving out grants for helipad projects since 2009. The Stornoway one is its third project in Scotland, after a £700,000 donation towards the helipad at the new Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.

A similar one is in the pipeline for Edinburgh Royal Infirmary in 2017, and last year the HELP Appeal funded a new helipad for Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance base at Perth.

Robert Bertram, Chief Executive of the HELP Appeal, said: “We had no hesitation in donating £40,000 to cover the entire cost of Western Isles Hospital’s helipad upgrade.

“Following our pledges of £700,000 to both Glasgow and Edinburgh’s hospital helipads, the Western Isles are the furthest north we’ve ever been and we hope the upgrade will make a huge difference for seriously ill patients and trauma patients needing treatment at Stornoway Hospital.

“Faced with extreme weather conditions on a regular basis, never was a hospital helipad so deserving of an upgrade. Our donation has helped to ensure a secure and solid landing area for all air ambulances and the Coastguard search and rescue helicopter that will withstand any future storms.”