CORK University Hospital (CUH) have engaged with a specialist aviation consultant to begin the process of building a helipad on the grounds of the hospital.
Currently, helicopters bringing patients to the hospital must land at Cork Airport or on playing pitches near the hospital and transfer patients by ambulance to the Emergency Department.
It was announced in February that CUH is to become one of the country’s two major trauma centres.
The hospital will require a major overhaul, including a helipad, to achieve this.
Last month, it was confirmed that a helipad will be installed at the CUH by the end of 2018.
CUH decided on a location for the helipad on the south-east corner of the campus in late 2017 and it had been expected that it would be operational by the end of the year.
However, Dr Gerard O’Callaghan, chief operations officer for the South/South West Hospital Group, said the Irish Aviation Authority expressed concerns about it being built on a raised platform.
These plans have now been revised, said Dr O’Callaghan, and the helipad will now be on a flat surface on the hospital grounds.
He added that it will be operational by quarter three or quarter four at the latest of this year, depending on planning.
A spokesperson for South/South West Hospital Group this week told the Evening Echo: “Cork University Hospital can confirm that it has engaged with a specialist aviation consultant.
“This is in preparation for the submission process regarding a planning application proposal for a helipad at the hospital to the Irish Aviation Authority.”
CUH identified a part of the hospital grounds on which to build a helipad around four months ago, according to Fine Gael councillor John Buttimer.
“The problem CUH have had is that a roof helipad will not support the bigger helicopters involved in oil rig and coastal rescues so they’ve had to look at creating one on the grounds of the hospital,” Mr Buttimer said.
“A helipad in will result in a loss of parking spaces but you have to look at what’s more important a helipad or parking.