New helipad for Derriford Hospital, Plymouth

Funding agreed for helipad at major trauma centre


Derriford Hospital in Plymouth will have a new helipad in operation by next summer.

Funding of just under £2m has been agreed to build the new helipad close to the emergency department entrance. The helipad will be able to receive Search and Rescue helicopters as well as the night flights which Devon and Cornwall Air Ambulance Service will soon be running.

Derriford Hospital does not have a recognised helipad. The hospital has a small grassed-over area adjacent to the emergency department which has been used for some years as a set-down area for air ambulances. This area is recognised under ‘grandfather rights’, but it is not a helipad and is unsuitable for larger helicopters and has no lighting. Larger helicopters such as those from the Military and Search and Rescue have had to land at nearby Marjons, with patients then being transferred to hospital by land ambulance. No flights, even from smaller helicopters, have been able to land at Derriford at night.

But, thanks to the HELP Appeal, which is contributing £850,000 alongside £900,000 capital funding from the hospital trust, work on the new £1.7m helipad will start within weeks.

Chief Executive of Derriford Hospital, Ann James, said: “Our patients need a proper, approved helipad and we’re really delighted that with the support of the HELP Appeal, we have been able to make this happen. We are the designated major trauma centre for the peninsula and we receive around 400 patients a year as emergencies needing transfer by air.

“It’s absolutely right that these patients can land as close as possible to our emergency department at all times of day and night. Being able to receive patients 24 hours a day will allow patients to be transferred for specialist care quickly, negating the need for lengthy ambulance transfers and potentially improving outcomes for them. A very quick transfer can be vital in major trauma cases.”

The helipad is expected to take around eight months to build.