Councillors back emergency flights to Queen Alexandra Hospital 24/7

TOUCH DOWN Hampshire Air Ambulance lands at the QA hospital
TOUCH DOWN Hampshire Air Ambulance lands at the QA hospital
Philip Astle, SCAS chief operating officer and, right, Paul Jefferies, assistant
director of operations

Ambulance service scoops honour for services support

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Helicopter flights will be allowed to take place at Queen Alexandra Hospital 24 hours a day.

Portsmouth City Council’s planning committee members yesterday voted seven to zero, with one abstention, in favour of allowing the flights to the hospital’s helipad from 6pm-8am.

Previously, a restriction had been in place stopping flights between those hours.

The Cosham superhospital’s representatives explained they wanted the rule lifted to allow patients in need of emergency heart surgery to be flown directly from the Isle of Wight.

Dr Huw Griffiths, a consultant cardiologist at QA, explained: ‘We are a specialist heart surgery centre, offering angioplasty operations, which are more effective than other types of heart surgery. In these cases, every minute counts, and we want to be able to fly people from the Isle of Wight, where there are no hospitals offering this treatment, to save their lives.’

Dr Griffiths told the committee that based on data from previous years, it expected flights to be needed, on average, between three and four times each month.

After the decision, he said: ‘We’re delighted. It will make a huge difference to the service we can provide to cardiac patients. There’s no doubt this will save lives.’

Sixty-seven people wrote to support the proposals, but 36 Cosham residents objected, citing noise which would make it impossible to sleep, damage to their homes caused by the flights and the spread of aviation fuel smells.

Richard Hogg, of Arran Close, said: ‘This is the only place in the UK where a helicopter takes off over people’s houses. It’s incredibly loud.’

After the meeting, Derek Hibbard, of Kintyre Road, Cosham, said: ‘I feel this was a mistake.

‘The councillors haven’t been to where we live and felt what we suffer.

‘There were alternative options, like allowing the helicopters to fly to Southampton General Hospital, which weren’t discussed. I have had two double glazed windows blown out by the helicopter. Others have had more. The whole house shakes like a mini-earthquake..’

Committee member Councillor Lee Hunt said: ‘I think it’s appalling and selfish for people who don’t live in the area to oppose this. I do understand residents’ concerns, but this is a life-saving measure. It’s good for the community. And it’s good for the city for QA to be able to operate as a specialist facility.’