MRI posted 2 March, 2022

HRH The Princess Royal opens lifesaving helipad in Manchester and visits maternity unit

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Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal today (2nd March) officially unveiled the helipad at Oxford Road Campus (ORC). She also visited maternity services at Saint Mary’s Hospital, both part of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT), in her role as Patron of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM).

The helipad, the first of its kind in the North West, enables critically ill patients to be airlifted straight to the Trust’s hospitals in Manchester city centre and has been used by the Air Ambulance over 70 times since opening in May 2021.

The helipad allows patients to be seen within minutes by trauma specialists which can be vital to help save lives and improve outcomes during time critical situations.

As well as unveiling the helipad, The Princess Royal also visited the Antenatal Clinic and Delivery Suite at Saint Mary’s Hospital, which won the Royal College of Midwives Midwifery Service of the Year Award in 2021.

Touring the maternity unit, she met with midwives, maternity support workers, doctors and families with their newborns.

She heard about vital research being undertaken by the service to improve outcomes for babies and young children. She also spoke to staff from the bereavement services about the support they provide to families at an incredibly difficult time. She was accompanied on the maternity visit by the RCM’s Executive Director, Midwife, Birte Harlev-Lam OBE and RCM President Rebeccah Davies.

The service is the largest in the country employing over 800 midwives and delivering 16,500 babies every year.

Kathy Cowell, Chairman of MFT, said: “We were delighted to welcome Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal to officially unveil our life saving helipad here in Manchester and to visit our renowned maternity services.

“The helipad has made a tremendous difference to how quickly our trauma teams can respond to emergencies which can be the difference between life and death.

“This wouldn’t have been possible without the generosity of everyone who helped with our fundraising appeal and I would like to thank them all for their hard work.

“Our maternity services continue to provide excellence care to mothers across the city of Manchester and I’m particularly delighted that The Princess Royal was able to spend time today talking to a number of staff about the wonderful care they provide.”

The helipad development was supported by a fundraising campaign called ‘Time Saves Lives’ that saw organisations and individuals come together to raise the required funding for the helipad in just 12 months.

This included a £1.36million donation from the County Air Ambulance HELP (Helicopter Emergency Landing Pads) Appeal, which funds helipads across the country.

Robert Bertram, Chief Executive of the HELP Appeal said: “For many people helipads are lifesavers too, along with hospitals and air ambulances. Her Royal Highness’ visit to another HELP Appeal funded helipad is hugely significant as it helps to highlight their vital role in emergency care because of their ability to help save time, which saves many lives.”

Birte Harlev-Lam, Executive Director, Midwife, at the RCM, said: “When you work in a service as busy as the one at Saint Mary’s, it can be tricky to take a step back and appreciate what great work you’re doing. Having the Princess Royal visit today enabled staff to talk about their work and allowed them a much-deserved moment in the spotlight. We are incredibly grateful to have Her Royal Highness as our Patron and for the real interest and understanding she shows in the work of midwives, maternity support workers and the wider maternity team, who were able to showcase the wonderful work they are doing.

“It’s been a great few months for the Manchester maternity service – winning the RCM Midwifery Service of the Year award and now this visit from the Princess Royal – and they truly deserve it. This is a service investing in its staff and its services to offer even better care for women, babies and their families.”