Suffolk: MP Calls For Helipad

One of our MP's is telling Heart why he thinks it is important to see a helipad built at a new trauma centre for the East.

Dr Dan Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, presented a letter on the future of the East Anglian Air Ambulance to the Secretary of State for Health, the Rt Hon Andrew Lansley earlier this week along with his fellow Suffolk MP Peter Aldous. 

Following his day spent aboard a helicopter of the East of England Air Ambulance Service on Thursday 29th March, Dr Poulter has written to the Health Secretary in a letter signed by most East Anglian MPs to raise his concerns about the future of the Air Ambulance in light of the East of England major trauma system review proposals.

It comes after the announcement this week that Addenbrooke's Hospital was going to become a major trauma centre for the East, so people across Norfolk and Suffolk who are seriously injured can be treated more quickly. The aim would be that they would go straight there as opposed to going to their local hospital first. 

Dr Poulter said; "There is broad recognition amongst medical professionals and local communities in what is predominantly a rural part of the United Kingdon, that the East of England Air Ambulance plays an invaluable role in supporting the NHS in life threatening emergencies by air lifting people to hospital. 

During my work as a doctor at the James Paget Hospital last summer, I saw at firsthand the importance of the East Anglian Air Ambulance, and know that some patients with serious injuries might not have survived were it not for the rapid response time of the Air Ambulance. 

I am concerned that the invaluable role played by the air ambulance has not been properly taken into consideration as a part of the current East of England major trauma system review proposals and I am particularly concerned by proposed changes that seek to impose boundaries dictated by a road transport time of 45 minutes. Beyond this, patients must be taken to a district general hospital, to await subsequent transfer to the major trauma centre at Addenbrooke's Hospital. It is for that reason that it is essential that there is a heliport at Addenbrooke's Hospital, which is the proposed regional centre of trauma care, because without a heliport, the East of England Air Ambulance will not be able to participate and support rapid treatment of severe trauma patients. 

We already have an excellent air ambulance system in place in East Anglia for dealing with patients who suffer life-threatening accidents or emergencies, and I shall be fighting to ensure that this remains the case in future. Flying with the crew, including pilots, specialist doctors and paramedics, over the skies of East Anglia last week brought home to me just how vitally important the air ambulance is for a predominantly rural region such as East Anglia, where much of the land can be difficult to reach for land ambulances in the event of an emergency. The ability of the air ambulance to reach rural, coastal and remote areas quickly is so often the decisive factor in saving someone's life.

Now that the East Anglian Air Ambulance has announced it will now be in operation for longer periods to extend the amount of cover it provides across the region, it is vital that a helipad is installed permanently at Addenbrooke's Hospital, so that patients with serious emergencies can be transferred to the specialist regional centre of trauma care as quickly as possible. It is also crucial that the East Anglian Air Ambulance service continues to be supported by speciality doctors in training who come from the London Deanery, so that our excellent air ambulance can continue to deliver a first class service across the region."

Addenbrooke's Hospital is telling Heart: "We are working towards a permanent helipad which will mean there is no longer a requirement for a land ambulance transfer.

All donations raised for the helipad so far will be put towards this solution.

In the meantime, we have every confidence in the views of clinical experts skilled in the care of trauma patients, that the system we are operating now provides a safe, high quality service."

MP Dr Dan Poulter Speaks To Heart's Holly Jones

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