The HSE said it is examining four potential ‘ground sites’ for the helipad at Cork University Hospital after concluding that a rooftop landing pad wasn’t suitable for some larger helicopters used by the Coastguard.
The helipad was built over as the hospital expanded.
Cllr Mary Shields (FF) told a HSE South forum meeting yesterday that the helipad should never have been removed from the hospital, which is the only ‘Level 1 Trauma Centre’ in the country.
She said it’s imperative that it be reinstated, especially as the number of beds at CUH will increase from 800 to 1,000 when an €85m cardiac unit is opened on the campus.
Ms Shields said it was unacceptable that patients were having to be transferred by ambulance from helicopters landing at Cork Airport and a site at Highfield.
Ger Reaney, HSE area manager, said that, in the interim, work was to be undertaken at the Highfield site to allow casualties to land there on a 24-hour basis. He said this work would be completed next month.
So far this year, 42 airlifted patients had been treated at CUH, Mr Reaney said.
Mr Reaney said the HSE “had the strongest indication” from the Department of Health that money would be made available to fund the project.
As soon as a site is identified, the HSE said it would consult with nearby householders to address any concerns. “We hope to have the work completed by the end-2014, or early 2015,” Mr Reaney said.