The opening of a hospital helipad has been delayed again after fears that landing helicopters could blow cladding off the building.

The helicopter landing pad at the Royal Sussex County Hospital was due to open in 2019 to allow air ambulances to directly take the most severely ill patients to hospital. It was hit by multiple delays amid the pandemic.

And now there are concerns from specialist surveyors that landing helicopters could blow panels off the side of the Thomas Kemp Tower.

The cladding on the top ten metres of the building will need to be reattached, with the opening now delayed until the autumn, the BBC reported.

The latest delay was revealed in meeting minutes obtained by a Freedom of Information request by BBC Radio Sussex.

Dr Rob Haigh, chief medical officer for University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The helideck at the Royal Sussex County Hospital is complete and the structure has been approved by the Civil Aviation Authority.

“A final piece of work on the Thomas Kemp Tower, which the helideck stands on, begins this month and should be complete by the autumn, following which the helideck will come into operation.

“The helideck will allow patients to be brought to the heart of the hospital directly by air ambulance.”

It comes just months after a spokesman for the NHS Trust sought to quash rumours claiming that the helipad is too small and unable to take larger-sized helicopters.

The spokesman told The Argus in October: “This has been one of those rumours that has been going around since we started construction.

“No matter what we’ve tried to do, we’ve never been able to quash it.”

Currently, air ambulances land in nearby East Brighton Park, with patients then transported to the hospital by ambulance - a roughly one-mile drive.

The helipad is part of a wider £483 million redevelopment of the Royal Sussex County Hospital, which will see the almost 200-year-old Barry Building replaced with a new state-of-the-art clinical building with modern facilities for patients and staff.

The 11-storey Louisa Martindale Building will be home to over 30 wards and departments and is set to open this spring.