Woman dies after incident involving Coastguard helicopter landing at Derriford Hospital

An elderly woman has died following an incident at Derriford Hospital involving a Coastguard helicopter.

Details are scarce at this stage, but police said they were alerted to the incident earlier in the day on the hospital grounds.

They say two people were injured when an HM Coast Guard helicopter began to land at the hospital helipad.

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However, one of the people, an elderly woman, later died of her injuries.

A police spokesperson said: “Devon and Cornwall Police have been made aware of an incident which occurred today (Friday March 4) on the grounds of Derriford Hospital.

“Two members of the public are believed to have been injured as an HM Coast Guard helicopter landed at Derriford Heliport.

“One person is being treated for their injuries and remains hospitalized.

“The second person injured, an octogenarian from the region, has since died, his relatives have been informed.

“An initial investigation is being carried out by Devon and Cornwall Police assisted by a number of partner agencies.”

View from the Derriford Hospital helipad under construction in April 2015

It is understood that the matter will be investigated by the Air Accident Investigation Branch, which investigates civil aircraft accidents and serious incidents.

The helipad was laid in 2015 after concerns over the ability of Devon and Cornwall air ambulances to land around the clock on what was originally just a flat, unlit patch of grass.

The heliport project cost £1.75 million and took around seven months to build. This meant that not only air ambulances could land, but also larger and heavier search and rescue helicopters, such as those used by the Army and HM Coastguard.

Prior to the installation of the new landing pad, helicopters had to land near Marjons Airport or even Plymouth, with patients then transferred to hospital by land ambulance.

In 2015, it was reported that Derriford Hospital saw around 400 patients a year as emergencies requiring air transfer.

First Sea King helicopter landing at the new Derriford Hospital Heliport in 2015
First Sea King helicopter landing at the new Derriford Hospital Heliport in 2015

At the time, emergency medicine consultant Dr Anthony Kehoe told the BBC: “The current strip is unfit for use and cannot be used in all conditions or at all at night.

“Some air ambulances and search and rescue cannot land here and diversion to a secondary site can add around 30 minutes, which can be critical at this time.”

The Helicopter Emergency Landing Pads (HELP) Appeal contributed £850,000 towards the construction of the heliport, including £900,000 from Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust capital funding.

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