The HELP Appeal improves helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) by funding the construction of new or upgraded hospital and air ambulance helipads. Since the charity’s creation in 2009, it has donated £20 million towards 39 new or upgraded helipads, of which 32 have been NHS hospital helipads and six air ambulance helipads. The cost of planned helipad projects equates to £50.75 million so far.
New helipads opened this year despite pandemic
This year alone, despite the pandemic, new helipads funded by the charity opened at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, Hull Royal Infirmary and Hereford County Hospital.
The HELP Appeal expanded into Scotland in 2015, to fund nine hospital helipads including the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow and Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, and Raigmore Hospital, Inverness, with another three in the pipeline. It also provided £200,000 over a four-year period to the Scottish Air Ambulance Service to fund replacement secondary landing sites throughout Scotland.
The charity pioneered the introduction and funding of Deck Integrated Fire Fighting Systems (DIFFS) on five rooftop helipads across the country, including King’s College Hospital and St George’s hospital, with three more planned, which save each NHS hospital around £250,000 every year in firefighting costs.
Helipads for air ambulance bases
It has also funded helipads at brand new air bases for several air ambulances, including the Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance; Midlands Air Ambulance Charity; Wiltshire Air Ambulance; Great Western Air Ambulance; Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance and London Air Ambulance; and is funding helipads for Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance and the Great North Air Ambulance.
Robert Bertram, CEO of the HELP Appeal, said: “Over 10 years ago, hospital helipad facilities were severely lacking, yet finance for hospitals was tight. There was little doubt that if we didn’t offer non-repayable funds towards the cost of helipads, hospitals would struggle to ever have one, despite emergency medics saying they were desperately needed to save time and save lives.”