Published: 12:30, 18 March 2019
| Updated: 12:46, 18 March 2019
Maidstone Hospital is set to open a new 24-hour helipad, potentially saving hundreds more lives every year.
The plans for a permanent landing site at the rear of the hospital's oncology unit will mean air ambulances no longer have to use a temporary grass area, which often finds itself waterlogged.
Proposals were approved by Maidstone Borough Council last year and have now taken another step forward after a donation from the Helicopter Emergency Landing Pads (HELP) Appeal.
The charity, which is the only one in the country dedicated to funding hospital helipads, handed over a £150,000 cheque to Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust last week, and will donate the same amount again later in the year.
Health chiefs say the helipad will mean patients who attend Maidstone's emergency department or who require specialist treatment in London hospitals can be flown quickly door-to-door by air, rather than trying to navigate congestion, particularly on Hermitage Lane.
The helipad is expected to be finished and ready for use by spring next year, which the trust's head of emergency planning and response, John Weeks, said would make "a real difference" to the hospital.
Leigh Curtis, Executive Director of Service Delivery, Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex said: "Having access to hospitals, like Maidstone, is vitally important to Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex, as it gives us the ability to reduce our patients’ journey time, giving them access to critical care quicker.
"This one is particularly meaningful to us, as it allows us to serve our founding community at its very heart."
Robert Bertram, chief executive of the HELP Appeal added: "We go where we are needed most and Maidstone Hospital needed our help.
"Seriously ill patients need hospital care in a matter of minutes to increase their chances of survival and recovery.
"Building a helipad with zero risk of becoming waterlogged will ensure this happens, saving time and saving lives."
More by this authorTom Pyman
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