Kings College helipad helps save hundreds of lives in two years

Kings College Hospital’s helipad – which was the third to be built in one of London’s four major trauma centres and partly funded by the HELP Appeal – has allowed 450 patients with severe injuries to be flown directly to the hospital contributing hugely to improvements in survival rates.

The helipad, located on the rooftop of the hospital’s Ruskin Wing, was the first in mainland Britain to use a DIFFS (Deck Integrated Fire Fighting System) which can extinguish fires quickly and effectively, protecting the helipad and hospital, ensuring the safety of those on deck and avoiding the need for a hospital evacuation. It also avoids the need for firemen to be on stand-by for a crash landing so reducing staff costs.

Since the helipad became operational, it only takes five minutes to transfer some of the region’s most seriously ill patients to the hospital’s Emergency Department. Previously, helicopters used to land in nearby Ruskin Park and patients were transferred to King’s by road – a process which took as long as 25 minutes.

Kings College Hospital provides major trauma services to a catchment area of 4.5 million residents in South East London and Kent. These patients are mainly transported by the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance service.

Rob Bentley, Clinical Director of South East London Kent and Medway (SELKaM) said: “There are serious risks to patients who, after landing in an air ambulance, have to finish their journey to hospital by road ambulance. The delay in treatment and movement can contribute to prolonged hospital stays, clotting and further injuries.

“The HELP Appeal’s significant contribution to our helipad has ensured that for the past two years 450 patients have been transferred to the Emergency Department quickly and smoothly – giving them the best possible chance of survival and recovery.”

Robert Bertram, Chief Executive of the HELP Appeal comments: “Two years on and we are delighted that the helipad is having such a positive impact – that’s why the HELP Appeal pledged £2.75 million of funding, as we knew the difference it would make to patients who are critically ill. Its proximity to the Emergency Department has given patients quicker access to the expert care they’ve urgently needed over the past couple of years. It’s been and will continue to be a lifesaver.”

King’s College Hospital helipad has also seen 250 crew pickups for London HEMS crews that have delivered patients by road from central London by land ambulance having been initially deployed by helicopter. This has dramatically improved the turnaround times and availability of HEMS crews for the next call.