Calls grow for Queen Alexandra Hospital to be allowed to operate helipad 24 hours a day

SUPPORT Hampshire Air Ambulance service flying into the QA hospital
SUPPORT Hampshire Air Ambulance service flying into the QA hospital

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SUPPORT is growing for plans to allow helicopters to land at Queen Alexandra Hospital 24-hours a day.

More and more people are getting behind hospital bosses who are to apply to scrap landing restrictions on the helipad at the Cosham hospital.

As reported yesterday, the air ambulance and coastguard helicopters can currently only land at the hospital between 8am and 6pm.

But QA chiefs say it is vital to allow night-time landings to save more lives and safeguard the future of the hospital’s heart attack service.

Today, politicians and patient groups have come out in support of the hospital – and criticised nearby residents for opposing the plans because they say helicopters are too noisy.

Hampshire and Portchester councillor Roger Price said: ‘I was horrified to find out the helipad wasn’t 24-hours anyway.

‘The helipad should be 24-hours for the simple reason that health emergencies do not respect the time of day. If you have a health issue and need to get it seen to quickly, it will not say “well the helicopter can’t land now so I’ll hang on a few hours”.

‘I can understand residents’ concerns about noise but what would their attitude be if their loved one was in need of urgent medical attention?

‘I think the residents need to think about the lives of those in danger. Living near a hospital you would expect to hear some noise from things like ambulance sirens.

‘The hospital managers say the helipad would only be used about once a week or once a fortnight out-of-hours anyway.

‘This is about people’s lives being at stake here, rather than the disturbance for residents once a fortnight.’

Gosport Cllr Peter Edgar added: ‘It seems to me illogical that you can only carry out life-saving landings at a certain time of the day. Why if someone falls ill in the day should they get the best treatment, but if it happens at 2am in the morning, it’s OK not to give them the optimum life-saving care?

‘For those living nearby, if you live near a hospital then you’ve got to expect there will be some noise and disturbance.

‘Gosport residents often hear the coastguard fly over quite low at night, but you accept it because it’s a life-saving mission and you put up with the inconvenience.’

Most patients coming into hospital by helicopter have suffered a heart attack.

Hospitals bosses fear that if they do not get 24-hour landing permission on the helipad from Portsmouth City Council, they could lose QA’s cardiologist unit entirely as patients may be sent to Southampton General Hospital – which is soon to get a 24-hour helipad – instead.

Jock McLees, chairman of the Portsmouth Local Involvement Network, the city’s patient group, said: ‘The hospital really does need to keep this service – for patients across the area and because it needs the business.

‘We understand the reservations of people living nearby but we feel the benefits of doing this out weigh any objections.’

QA will submit a planning application to the city council later this month.