WORK has begun to install a £3 million helipad on the roof of the Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI).

The 25-square metre aluminium deck will sit four metres above the existing roof level of the hospital's Queen’s Building and connect to the new ward block via a steel ramp leading to a new lift lobby.

It will be assembled on site over the next 12 weeks and be operational from 2014.

The new helipad will allow the fast and efficient transfer of patients, the majority of which will be children and infants, from the adult Emergency Department as well as services within the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children.

The Bristol Heart Institute will also receive patients transferred by helicopter for cardiac treatment.

Professor Jonathan Benger, consultant in emergency medicine at the BRI, said: “A helipad at the trust providing quick access to our adult and children’s emergency departments and specialist emergency services will save lives and give our patients, many of whom are children, a much better chance of survival and recovery.”

The helipad will receive air ambulances from Bristol and the surrounding areas – including Bath, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and South Wales – significantly speeding up transfer times for critically ill and injured patients being air lifted to the hospital for emergency care.

A grant of £500,000 has been provided by the Helicopter Emergency Landing Pads (HELP) Appeal Charity towards construction.

The deck is part of a wider programme of work currently underway across the BRI by University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust (UH Bristol), which incorporates a new ward block and welcome centre.

Access to the helipad will be via two new lifts and there will be two fire escape staircases.