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HELP APPEAL: 'This helipad has saved time and saved lives' more than 1000 landings at Inverness hospital helipad since it reopened in 2019

By Louise Glen

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Coastguard helicopter landing on Raigmore Hospital’s helipad.
Coastguard helicopter landing on Raigmore Hospital’s helipad.

The upgraded helipad at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness has seen 1016 landings since it reopened in 2019.

The much-needed improvements two years’ ago enabled the helipad to increase in size to meet the demands of larger and more frequent aircraft use which are vital in an emergency, as they are faster, can carry more medical equipment and another medic or a relative of a critically ill patient.

The helipad also met new industry standards with the installation of landing lights.

At a cost of just under £600,000, the upgrade was paid for by a £480,000 donation from the HELP Appeal and just under £120,000 from the Highland Health Board Endowment Fund.

Since then, the Scottish Air Ambulance and Coastguard have been using the helipad to transfer seriously ill patients to lifesaving hospital treatment.

Dr Michael Rennie, consultant in emergency medicine and service clinical director, Raigmore Hospital, said: “The helipad at Raigmore Hospital serves as an essential time and lifesaving 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.

"The benefit of the helipad is multifaceted: it allows the sickest of patients to be rapidly taken to the emergency department for example following major road traffic collisions, mountain falls or medical and surgical emergencies. It also optimises availability of other ambulance and pre-hospital resources.

Aerial shot of Raigmore Hospital’s helipad.
Aerial shot of Raigmore Hospital’s helipad.

“Given our Highland geography it could take road ambulances many hours to transport an unwell patient to the emergency department and return to their base. A helicopter and helipad can significantly shorten this, permitting road ambulance resources to remain available for other emergencies.

“We remain grateful to the HELP Appeal and the NHSH Endowments Fund for their donations which have allowed us to have a helipad fit for the future.”

Robert Bertram, chief executive of the HELP Appeal adds: “This helipad has saved time and saved lives. As air ambulance patients’ injuries and illnesses are so severe, every second counts in getting them to the hospital for lifesaving treatment. We are so proud that the HELP Appeal’s donation, has helped the hospital to treat patients as quickly as possible, over the past two years.’

The HELP Appeal has funded or is funding 12 helipads in Scotland, including at Raigmore Hospital, Inverness; Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and Campbeltown and in remote communities on Applecross and on the Isles of Barra, Arran and Mull. The charity also donated £200,000 towards portable landings lights for Scotland’s Air Ambulance Service for 20 island locations across Scotland.

READ: PHOTOS: Wind damage in the Highlands sees an Inverness primary school closed and a substantial street sign fall onto a car on Harbour Road

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