A hospital helipad which is currently unsafe to use is being repaired to allow Air Ambulances to land.

Work has begun on the Thomas Kemp Tower at the Royal Sussex County Hospital with cladding on the helideck being removed and reattached.

The helideck, which was originally planned to be used from 2019, is currently not in use due to fears that helicopters could damage the cladding on the building.

Dr Rob Haigh, chief medical officer for University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust said: “Being able to bring some of the most unwell and severely injured patients to the centre of the hospital by air ambulance has been a long-term goal, but the constrained nature of the site made this impossible until this point.

“Now, as part of the redevelopment of the hospital, we can bring the helideck into use and provide a direct route for patients brought in by air ambulance to reach the services they need more quickly.

It is hugely welcome news that this work is underway, bringing the opening of the helideck closer.”

Work on the helipad includes removing the cladding on the top of the building, inspecting it and re-attaching it.

The Argus: Royal Sussex County Hospital HelipadRoyal Sussex County Hospital Helipad (Image: University Hospitals Sussex)

The repairs are scheduled to last 30 weeks but are subject to the weather conditions due to the work taking place at height.

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Workers in cradles will remove the cladding from the top ten metres of the building and re-attach it with new brackets.

Following the work approval will be needed from the Civil Aviation Authority before trial landings with air ambulances.

Currently the helicopters are forced to land in East Brighton Park near the hospital with the patients then transported from the hospital from there.

The work comes as the hospital prepares to open the newest building in the hospital, the Louisa Martindale building, which will play home to new neurosurgery theatres as well as a critical care unit.

The new building will also replace the current Barry building, one of the oldest working wings in the NHS, which will be knocked down to make way for a new cancer treatment centre.