THE lack of a helipad at Cork University Hospital is putting people who need emergency treatment at risk, it has been claimed.
The HSE confirmed to the Evening Echo last week that it will send a planning application to Cork City Council for the development of the helipad. However, no deadline or construction date has been revealed.
City councillor Mary Shields (FF) expressed her disappointment at the lack of a clear timeline for the construction of the helipad.
CUH previously had a helipad on the roof of the old emergency department but it was closed when the emergency department was redeveloped in 2003.
Helicopters have since been landing with emergency cases at either Cork Airport or Bishopstown GAA pitch where patients then have to be transferred by ambulance to CUH.
“Over the years I have put down motion after motion after motion,” said Cllr Shields. “I’ve been assured that the HSE were looking into it, that the Coast Guard was looking into it but here we are with no helipad. CUH is a major trauma centre. If a person gets a heart attack or stroke in West Cork and they’ve to be taken up here, we’ve to bring them to a GAA pitch or the airport.
“It’s a terrible waste of time, particularly when time is of the essence,” she added.
The lack of a helipad also presents issues when attempting to transport patients from CUH to other hospitals, according to Cllr Shields.
“If a baby is born in the maternity hospital here and it needs to go to Crumlin hospital for specialist paediatric treatment, an ambulance can drive it to Dublin, which will take hours,” she said.
“Or it has to be brought to the airport and then transferred to Dublin via helicopter.
“Both take too long,” she added.
“The service needs to be quicker and to do this, the helipad needs to be constructed as soon as possible.
“It’s crazy what’s going on, and it’s been going on since around 2006.”