King’s College Hospital helipad launch

Today, Wednesday 26 October, King’s College Hospital is pleased to announce the opening of its helipad.

Helipad helideck

The new helipad will save thousands of lives, helping the hospital serve its trauma population of 4.5 million people across south east London and Kent.

Built on top of the hospital’s 10-storey Ruskin Wing, the helipad has been made possible thanks to a multi-million-pound donation from the County Air Ambulance HELP Appeal – the only charity in the country dedicated to funding the construction of hospital helipads. In addition, more than 2,600 patients, staff, and members of the local community generously donated £500,000 to the hospital’s Time is Life Appeal.

The helipad is the first in mainland UK to be equipped with a deck integrated firefighting (DIFF) system. This system automatically sprays foam from a series of nozzles installed into the helideck in the event of a fire, instead of relying on a team of fire fighters to manually extinguish it. Using the automated fire system will save the Trust £300,000 each year compared to employing firefighters, and it guarantees to extinguish a blaze within eight seconds. The system also frees up firefighters to work on the ground.

The new helipad will speed up the time it takes helicopters to transfer critically ill patients to King’s, and reduce ‘landing-to-resus’ transfer times to just five minutes. At present, helicopters land in nearby Ruskin Park and patients are transferred to King’s by road - a process which can take as long as 25 minutes.

Dr Malcolm Tunnicliff is Clinical Director for Emergency Medicine at King’s College Hospital. He is also Deputy Director of the South East London Kent and Medway (SELKaM) Major Trauma Network, and a doctor with the Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance Trust - a charity providing a Helicopter Emergency Service (HEMS) to the south east of England, and is Governance Lead for the charity.

He said: “We are incredibly pleased that our helipad at King’s is operational. It’s a very positive development for the patients we treat and our staff, who go above and beyond every single day to save people’s lives. At King’s we treat some of the most seriously ill and critically injured patients in the south east. The helipad will speed up the time it takes to transfer patients from helicopter to hospital, giving patients the very best chance of survival.”

Mr Robert Bentley, Clinical Director of the King's Trauma Centre (KTC) and South East London Kent and Medway (SELKaM) Major Trauma Network, added: “We are very grateful to the County Air Ambulance HELP Appeal, plus the many other donors and fundraisers from across the King’s hospital community – without their generous contributions, the helipad would not have been possible.

“When a patient has experienced major trauma it is vital they get specialist treatment as quickly as possible. In these situations, time is life.

“We are proud to be the best performing major trauma network in the country, and our new helipad will help us continue our focus on delivering world-class trauma care, and saving even more lives.”

Robert Bertram, Chief Executive of the HELP Appeal which donated £2.75 million, including £500,000 towards the entire cost of the DIFF, explained the importance of the new system: “This automatic system is safer for everyone including emergency rescue teams as they can work alongside the spray activation to help with evacuating patients and staff from air ambulances. It has also been shown to put out fires really efficiently and isn’t affected by the wind – a must when the helipad is located on the roof of King’s College Hospital.

“Typically used on oil rigs, this is the first time DIFF will be used on a helipad in mainland UK where even though the chance of a fire is much lower, we feel reassured that if it ever does happen, we now have the best possible chance of getting the fire completely extinguished and critically ill patients can continue their journey to the Emergency Department quickly as possible.

“We have pledged £2.75 million to this helipad as we are fully aware of the drastic difference this helipad will make. Every second counts when a critical accident or injury happens, and the new helipad will make sure the most seriously ill or injured patients get the treatment they need as quickly as possible.”

For further information please contact:
Karen Welsh
Acting Head of Communications
Extension: +44 (0)20 3299 3850

Notes to editors

1. King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is one of the UK’s largest and busiest teaching hospitals, training over 900 dentists, 750 doctors and 300 nurses every year. The Trust is recognized internationally for its work in liver disease and transplantation, neurosciences, cardiac, haemato-oncology, stroke and major trauma. On 1 October 2013, King’s took over the running of the Princess Royal University Hospital in Bromley and Orpington Hospital, as well as some services at Beckenham Beacon and Queen Mary’s Hospital, Sidcup. The new enlarged organisation has over 10,500 staff and provides over 1 million patient contacts a year. 9,000 babies are delivered by our hospitals each year, and over 750 patients come to our Emergency Departments every day. For more information, please visit the website. You can also support the work of King’s College Hospital at

2. King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre (AHSC) is a pioneering collaboration between King’s College London, and Guy’s and St Thomas’, King’s College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts.

King’s Health Partners is one of only six Department of Health-designated AHSCs in England and brings together an unrivalled range and depth of clinical and research expertise, spanning both physical and mental health. Our combined strengths will drive improvements in care for patients, allowing them to benefit from breakthroughs in medical science and receive leading edge treatment at the earliest possible opportunity.

Our partnership brings together...

  • three of the UK’s leading NHS Foundation Trusts;
  • one of the top 30 universities in the world;
  • services provided over 225 locations, including seven hospitals and community and mental health centres;
  • 2.2 million patient contacts each year;
  • 31,000 staff;
  • 25,000 students;
  • a combined annual turnover of £2.8bn.

... to advance health and wellbeing by integrating world-class research, care and teaching.

3. At King’s College Hospital we fundraise for the best in treatment, research and health education, leading-edge equipment and improving well-being in our communities. By uniting doctors, nurses, researchers and academics with our supporters and volunteers we can provide the best patient care that goes above and beyond. Find out more and support us at

About the HELP Appeal

  1. The HELP (Helicopter Emergency Landing Pads) Appeal was established by the County Air Ambulance Trust to help raise funds for much needed hospital helipad facilities across the country. Only a small number of hospitals have onsite helicopter landing pads and this means that transfer times are increased. Most air ambulance patients have to be transferred by road for part of their journey which takes time and can often mean a life threatening transfer is needed from the helicopter to the road ambulance.
  2. The HELP Appeal operates the HELP Appeal grant scheme which offers non-repayable grants to hospitals to help fund new helipads or upgrade existing helipads.
  3. The Appeal has already funded helipads at Oswestry Spinal Injuries Hospital, Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, Southampton General Hospital, Bristol Royal Infirmary and St. George’s Hospital in London, and is currently talking to over twenty hospitals from Brighton to Edinburgh about their helipad needs and how the Appeal might be able to help with this life-saving equipment. In 2015, new helipads opened at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow and Western Isles Hospital in December, followed by Derriford Hospital in Plymouth and Sheffield Northern General in June 2016.
  4. Donations can be made by calling the donation helpline on 0800 389 8999, visiting the website or donating by text, just type HPAD22 plus the amount into the message box and send it to 70070. Donation will be charged to your mobile bill.