THE chief executive of Cork University Hospital (CUH) has said he hopes construction on the new helipad will begin in early 2019.
Speaking to the Evening Echo, Tony McNamara said the new helipad will be a “critical piece” of infrastructure.
CUH previously had a helipad, but it was closed when the emergency department was redeveloped in 2003.
Helicopters carrying emergency cases have since been landing at either Cork Airport or Bishopstown GAA pitch, from where patients then have to be transferred by ambulance.
The planning application, which was lodged with City Hall earlier this month, shows that the new helipad will be constructed on the staff car park at the north-east corner of the hospital grounds.
The planning notice confirmed that the development would include a new, two-storey staff car park, to replace the 164 spaces lost as a result of the helipad construction.
A new pedestrian bridge will also be erected over the hospital campus ring road.
The helipad is to be linked with the hospitals’ emergency department, via a partially enclosed walkway, which will include lift and stair access.
“The helipad will be a critical piece of infrastructure,” said Mr McNamara.
“The capability of being able to transfer very sick patients rapidly from other hospitals to the trauma centre here is very important.
“This importance will grow as traffic congestion grows and as the need for faster delivery of patients grows,” he added.
“We’re delighted to have submitted a planning app and we hope we can rapidly get through the planning process and that we can start construction early in 2019,” Mr McNamara said.
Noise-control measures will reduce the impact of the helicopters on nearby houses, according to planning documents.
Almost 200 helicopter transfers took place between Bishopstown GAA pitch, Cork Airport, and CUH in the last three years.
The planning documents, on display in City Hall, claim that the proposed helipad will have the potential to save lives.