A special working group for aeromedical transport for Ireland stated, in its report to the Department of Health in October 2014, that all new hospitals should have a ground-level helipad. This would facilitate landings from all helicopter models used by the Irish Air Corps and the Irish Coastguard. The Irish Air Corps, responsible for most patient transfer nationwide, uses Augusta Westland 139 helicopters which are licensed for both ground-level and rooftop landings for sites approved by the Irish Aviation Authority.
The Irish Coastguard, responsible for coastal rescues as well as regular patient transfers for the west of Ireland, uses a larger class of helicopter, the Sikorsky S 92, which is only licensed for ground-level landings.
In low-rise or rural hospital settings, the ideal location of a hospital helipad is on ground level, with direct ground access to the Critical Care Departments.
In high-rise urban hospital settings such as London, the ideal location of a hospital helipad is on the uppermost roof with 360-degree helicopter access, with dedicated lift transfer to the Critical Care Departments.
The proposed helipad in the National Children’s Hospital Development Board planning application is located at 4th floor roof level of the children’s hospital, adjacent to its central 8-storey building. This has neither the advantages of a ground-level helipad nor those of a top roof-level helipad with full 360-degree access, and is far from ideal.
The proposed helipad at St James’s will be used for both adult and child transfers. The number of expected flights especially to the adult hospital is likely to increase dramatically in the coming years and there is grave concern over frequency and noise levels, as it is extremely close to residential areas and children’s hospital bedrooms.