Link Bridge to Life-saving Helipad Marks Major Milestone for Manchester Hospitals

A 45 metre section of a link bridge was successfully lowered into place at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust’s (MFT) Oxford Road Campus today, marking a major milestone in the construction of the site’s £3.9 million new Helipad.

The steel link bridge houses a high-level patient transfer corridor connecting the Helipad landing site to the hospitals on MFT’s Oxford Road Campus and was lowered into place by two cranes – one 350 tonne crane and one 250 tonne crane – on Friday 10th July.

The 130m-long corridor between Grafton Street Car Park and MFT hospitals is suspended 19 metres above street-level with direct access to the hospitals’ Emergency Departments.

Once completed, the new helicopter landing site will allow more than 300 patients to be airlifted to the campus each year.

Situated on the roof of Grafton Street Car Park on Oxford Road, it will enable critically ill or injured adults, children and babies to be transported directly to the city-centre hospitals. This includes the Emergency Departments at Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI) and Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital (RMCH).

The MRI is a Major Trauma Centre for Greater Manchester and RMCH is the Major Trauma Centre for the entire Greater Manchester region and one of only two dedicated Children’s Major Trauma Centres in the whole of the North West providing care for seriously ill or injured children.

Currently, critically ill or injured patients can be flown to these facilities at MFT but the helicopter has to use a secondary landing site in parkland a mile away and patients are then transferred by road ambulance. Having landing facilities directly on site is expected to save lives locally and regionally and increase the chances of a full or improved level of recovery in many seriously ill or injured patients.

David Furnival, Group Director of Estates and Facilities at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust said; “After months of hard work at ground level and up on top of the Grafton Street Car Park, I am delighted that this major milestone has now been reached. The newly-placed 45 metre link bridge is a crucial piece of construction that will allow patients to be transported quickly and safely from the helicopter landing site into one of our hospitals.”

Alistair Rennie, Consultant in Emergency Medicine and Major Trauma at Manchester Royal Infirmary said; “When dealing with major trauma and serious injuries, seconds count, and getting patients to the right care can potentially mean the difference between life and death. This new Helipad facility will allow us to save more lives, and help more people than ever before.”

Funding for the Helipad was raised by MFT Charity’s Time Save Lives Appeal, which raised the money in just 12 months, thanks to the dedication and generosity of its supporters.

The Appeal was the focus of the Charity’s fundraising, with individuals, businesses and community groups from across the North West all showing their support. This included a generous donation of £1.36million from the County Air Ambulance HELP Appeal, the only charity in the country dedicated to funding NHS hospital helipads and £1.1million from the government’s LIBOR fines funds in the Chancellor’s Budget.

Robert Bertram, Chief Executive of the HELP Appeal said: “We first held discussions with the hospital six years ago and are delighted that this vitally important helipad project is coming to fruition. We know our funding for the helipad and its automatic fire fighting system will make a huge difference to patient survival and recovery, including those treated at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital which is the Major Trauma Centre for the whole region.”

The feat of engineering took place today (Friday 10th July).