Royal Preston Hospital will have a helicopter based on site to allow A&E doctors to fly to the scene of accidents for the first time, saving more lives than ever across the region.
The North West Air Ambulance charity has teamed up with hospital bosses to make the major change, which will see doctors from the major trauma centre to fly direct to seriously injured patients.
In the coming weeks, one of the air ambulance’s two helicopters will be based all day on the hospital’s helipad.
Royal Preston has been chosen as a new base for the air ambulance because of its role as a major trauma centre for the area.
It is the first time outside of London that a helicopter will operate from a hospital helipad.
If someone suffers major injuries in an accident or there is a large-scale trauma incident, doctors from Preston will be able to travel onboard to the scene.
Alice Roberts, 16, from Hornby, near Lancaster, was flown by air ambulance to Royal Preston Hospital after suffering life-threatening injuries when she was crushed by a horse two years ago.
She said: “I think it is wonderful the air ambulance will be based at Royal Preston Hospital, and that doctors will be able to fly in the helicopter and treat injured people at the scene.
“The paramedics on the air ambulance are great, but with the extra skills of trauma doctors, they will be able to save even more lives.”
Sean Hughes, medical director at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, said: “As the regional major trauma centre for Lancashire and South Cumbria, we are delighted to be providing a base for the North West Air Ambulance.
“This will enable us to take key members of our team direct to incident scenes, which will help us to provide the best possible care for major trauma patients.
“There is evidence to show that if you take a senior clinician to the site of trauma, that will be a major asset.
“When there is a major trauma situation, quick decisions need to be made in a speedy timeframe, and a senior clinician trained in trauma can do this.
“If they go on board the air ambulance, they will get to the scene much quicker than by road, and they will be able to triage the patient or patients, and report back to the hospital to warn them about what is wrong with the patient who will be coming in.”
In a £250,000 investment, the charity is moving its two helicopters from their current bases at Blackpool Airport to Royal Preston Hospital, and from City Airport Manchester to Wythenshawe Hospital.
Lynda Brislin, chief executive of the North West Air Ambulance charity, said: “A patient will no longer have to wait until their arrival at hospital to have access to the highest quality clinical care – instead, this will be available to them in their time of extreme need.
“Being based at key trauma hospitals, and having expert clinicians on hand for serious incidents will help to further increase patients’ life chances.
“Having the helicopter on the helipad at Royal Preston Hospital will mean that when we are notified of an incident, we can ask one of the doctors at A&E to fly with us, so the clinical skills at the roadside will be greatly enhanced.
“Developments of this nature come at a significant cost, and would not be possible without the support of the North West public.”
The North West Air Ambulance charity needs to raise in excess of £4.2m each year in order to keep its air ambulances flying.