Published: 06:01, 27 March 2019
People who need help from the air ambulance have a better chance of survival thanks to a new 24 hour helipad.
King's College Hospital is the first major trauma centre to let the helicopters land at any time of the day.
Since it opened in October 2016, the helipad at the hospital in Denmark Hill has operated from 7am and 9pm.
Listen to Dr Malcolm Tunnicliff talk about 'game-changing' development
Any patients needing specialist treatment outside of these hours were taken by road, which could take up to two hours.
Dr Malcolm Tunnicliff, Helicopter Emergency Services (HEMS) Consultant at Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex and consultant in emergency medicine and major trauma at King’s College Hospital, said: “A 24/7 helipad at King’s is a game-changer for patients in south-east London and Kent as time is absolutely critical when it comes to treating trauma patients.
"Those with head injuries, multiple fractures or significant blood loss require timely treatment by a specialist team with the right equipment."
Dr Helen Bowcock, chair of Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex, added: “Having a helipad operating 24/7 at King’s will greatly enhance the service we can provide to our patients.
“Previously we had to rely on road ambulances if patients needed to access the specialist trauma services provided by King’s during night-time hours. With a round-the-clock helipad now operational, journey times will be cut by some three-quarters,ensuring seriously injured patients receive timely care 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
The air ambulance, which moved it's base in Kent to Rochester in May last year, needs to raise more than £11m a year to keep flying.
Last year, crews on the helicopter helped more than 2,000 people in life-threatening situations.
The helipad was funded through charitable donations from the the hospital’s supporters, King’s College Hospital Charity and the HELP Appeal.
The operational costs for the extended service will be covered by Air Ambulance Kent Surrey and Sussex.