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Extending access to specialist services: the impact of an onsite helipad and analysis of the first 100 flights
  1. Eleanor S Freshwater1,2,
  2. Phillip Dickinson3,
  3. Robert Crouch4,5,
  4. Charles D Deakin6,7,
  5. C Andy Eynon8
  1. 1Workforce Development Directorate, NHS South of England, Winchester, UK
  2. 2Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance, Southampton, UK
  3. 3ICM and Anaesthesia, and Trauma Working Group, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton, UK
  4. 4Emergency Department, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton, UK
  5. 5Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK
  6. 6Honorary Professor, Department of Resuscitation and Prehospital Emergency Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK
  7. 7Clinical Directorate, South Central Ambulance Service, Otterbourne, UK
  8. 8Department of Major Trauma, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton, UK
  1. Correspondence to Eleanor Sarah Freshwater, Workforce Development Directorate, NHS South of England, Southern House, Otterbourne, Winchester, Hampshire SO21 2RU, UK; Eleanor.Freshwater{at}{at}


Background In November 2011, University Hospital Southampton (UHS), now a major trauma centre, opened its onsite helipad, allowing patients to be brought to the emergency department (ED) directly by air ambulance. Prior to this, helicopters were required to land at a local playing field and the patient had to be transferred by land ambulance. This study aims to investigate the impact this change in practice has had on the flow of patients to the ED.

Methods The authors completed a retrospective case analysis of the first 100 patients brought directly to UHS by helicopter. Data were obtained from ED notes and helicopter provider databases. Analysis was conducted on the type of incident and appropriateness of referral. Incident locations were plotted geographically.

Results 100 patients arrived at UHS ED by helicopter between 17 November 2011 and 31 March 2012. Of these, 79 were primary helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) missions and 21 were secondary transfers from other hospitals. Of the HEMS patients, 38 were likely to have been transported to another hospital, had there not been an onsite helipad at UHS. 29 passed another suitable receiving hospital en route and therefore may have come to UHS for speciality services.

Conclusions The provision of an onsite, 24 h helipad facility at UHS has resulted in a significant number of patients being transported to the hospital by helicopter who might otherwise have attended an alternative hospital.

  • Trauma
  • triage
  • helicopter retrieval
  • emergency ambulance systems
  • emergency care systems, emergency departments

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