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Below are some frequently asked questions, which we hope will give you answers to any queries that you might have. You can also click here to view East Anglian Air Ambulance statistics and click here to view Magpas Air Ambulance statistics

Q: Why do we need a helipad at the L&D hospital?
A: When someone suffers an accident which involves multiple or serious injuries that could result in death or serious disability, the speed at which they can get specialist medical help can be the difference between life and death or between recovering and recovering well. This also applies to patients who are suffering a stroke or a heart attack. In some situations, the quickest and best way to get a patient to their local Emergency Department is by helicopter. We need to create a helipad on the hospital site to allow for this. If you or someone you loved were involved in a serious accident, you would give anything for the best medical attention available in the fastest time.

Q: What is the Golden Hour and why does it matter?
A: In emergency medicine, the ‘Golden Hour’ is the term given to the first 60 minutes after a traumatic injury or medical emergency. During this time there is the highest likelihood that prompt medical treatment will prevent death and improve outcomes for the patient. In reality, the term emphasises the importance of rapid intervention in such cases, rather than the exact number of minutes elapsed.

Q: How do air ambulances currently transport patients to the Luton and Dunstable University Hospital?
A: Currently our ability to receive Air Ambulance depends on them landing some distance away on a field and needing secondary land transfer, ignoring the time it may take to clearing the playing field this adds around 20 minutes, as opposed to the two minutes it would take to transfer from the proposed helipad.

The main challenges with the off-site helipad are:

  • Distance from the landing site to the Emergency Department
  • Having to move the patient more which causes distress, adds potential medical complications and increases their anxiety
  • It is too small for many modern air ambulances
  • It has limited landing availability because there is no lighting and it is in close proximity to trees.

Q: What is the difference between a primary and secondary helipad?
A: A primary helipad is the best possible option for trauma and emergency patients. The new helipad will be located above the Emergency Department. This would provide vertical connectivity to: trauma; theatres; cardiac; imaging; MRI, Stroke and Neonatal facilities. This position will provide the fastest route possible for patients to access vital trauma care, creating better outcomes.  A secondary helipad, as is currently available, is further away and requires a secondary transport by land ambulance to reach the department.

Q: Where will the new helipad be located?
A: A number of potential positions were evaluated and after careful consideration and professional consultation, it was agreed that the best location for the helipad was on top of the lift shafts that will connect the Emergency Department to the Imaging department and the link corridor to the new services block and Assessment Units that will be established by refurbishing wards 10, 11 and 12.

There are a number of benefits that follow from the construction of the helipad at the L&D:

  1. The provision of the new lifts will provide a direct link between the ED and Theatres on the ground floor to the Imaging department and wards on the first floor.
  2. The lifts will provide direct access to wards 10, 11, and 12 and would support the reconfiguration of these wards as Assessment Units as set out in the hospitals redevelopment proposals.
  3. The works support the reconfiguration of the Imaging department and provide a rapid and direct link to the ED

It will not affect the current road network. A site plan and architects drawings of the helipad can be seen at the bottom of this page.

Q:Is it dangerous having helicopters landing in the middle of a busy hospital site?
A: Patient safety at the L&D is paramount; the helipad will be on the roof and not at ground level, so it should not cause any issues or disruption for the rest of the hospital. There are strict safety requirements around the location, building and maintenance of the helipad and the safety of everyone in the vicinity has been considered and factored into both the location and design.

Q: Will it be very noisy?
A: Helicopters are not the quietest vehicles and inevitably there will be noise when one is landing or taking off. The elevated design of the helipad and the size of the platform will help to keep the noise levels down considerably compared to a ground landing site, but yes, it is likely to be noisy when the helipad is in use.

Q: Will it hold up traffic on site?
A: The location of the helipad means that there should be no disruption to traffic on this busy site either during the construction of the helipad or when it is in operation.

Q: What will a new primary helipad cost?
A: The core costs associated with his project are being generated through public appeal via The Luton and Dunstable Hospital Charitable Fund. This income is made up of both actual and pledged response.  The Charity is delighted to support this project for the benefit of patients as the facility will not generate income into the Trust and exchequer funding is not available to support this life saving resource.  We receive donations from a broad spectrum of supporters from charitable trusts, individuals, companies, community groups and schools and some legacy income.

It will cost £7 million in total to clear the site, build the new primary helipad configure the structure. This is because we are in a built up site with close proximity to London, the M1 and London Luton Airport with limited space to accommodate a pad with a direct link to the Emergency Department.

Funding to date:

Did you know we are in the final stages of fundraising for a new helipad within the hospital complex? We need to raise a final £6.24 million (the equivalent of just £8 for every person treated in our Emergency Department alone last year) to stay on track to be operational by 2021.

£3.5m from The County Air Ambulance Trust (CAAT). This is a national charity that operates the HELP (Helicopter Emergency Landing Pads) Appeal to raise funds to support the construction of helipads at hospital sites.

£2m has been contributed by The Luton and Dunstable Hospital to underwrite all the enabling works needed to facilitate the shaft and basement stabilisation to accommodate the weight of a helipad.

£1m has been pledged by a donor.

Q: When will the new helipad be ready?
A: We hope the helipad will be fully operational by summer 2021.

Q: Will there be a lot of disruption while this is being built?
A: With any kind of major building project some disruption is inevitable. However we are very aware of the needs of people visiting the site and especially in the Emergency Department so we are making detailed contingency plans. Previous plans for siting the helipad would have been far more disruptive as they entailed changing buildings. This is no longer the case and therefore, the level of disruption will be minimised.

Q: How can I make a donation to the L&D Helipad Appeal?
 Click here to make a donation on our Just Giving Page, call 01582 718 289 or email the fundraising team.