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Boris Johnson today heard how the opening of the first helipad in south London had transformed the care given to critically ill patients. (Picture from @MayorofLondon Twitter account).

The Mayor met eight-year-old Harvey Tagorti, pictured below with mum Faye, when he performed the official opening of the £5 million helipad at St George’s hospital in Tooting. Harvey underwent emergency surgery and was put in a medically induced coma for a week when a wooden beam fell on his head, breaking his skull in two places and causing a bleed on the brain.

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He had been playing on swings in a playground in Crawley, Surrey, when the structure collapsed. He was flown by Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance to St George’s in 11 minutes, allowing surgeons to quickly assess Harvey’s condition.

When a scan showed high pressure on his brain, a section of his skull was removed – and inserted under a fold of skin in his stomach to keep the tissue alive. It was then patched back into his skull several days later. Harvey, one of the first patients to benefit from the helipad, was today telling the Mayor about his recovery and his plans to return to school in September. Harvey’s mum Faye said:

I am so grateful that the helipad was open. The paramedics were incredible and I am convinced that the speed of our journey and the brilliance of the HEMS [Helicopter Emergency Service] doctors and medical care at St George’s has saved my son’s life.

Thirty patients have arrived at the specialist trauma hospital by helicopter since the helipad opened on April 8. Located five storeys above the hospital’s emergency department, it took two years to plan and 11 months to build. It has been used by five ambulance services so far.

Miles Scott, chief executive of St George’s, said: “We know that getting our patients to us in the fastest time possible so they can receive expert treatment is vital for ensuring the best survival rates and future quality of life.”

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Mr Johnson said: “St George’s brand-new helipad is providing an additional lifeline to south London and beyond, delivering patients in need of acute care into the heart of one of the capital’s principal teaching hospitals. With London’s forecast population growth, this is a welcome boost to healthcare provision in our city.”

London’s Air Ambulance, which is based at the Royal London hospital in Whitechapel, is able to use St George’s as an alternative destination, depending on where the injury occurs.

Earlier this month King’s College hospital launched a £3.5 million campaign for a helipad to save air ambulances having to land in Ruskin Park, 15 minutes away from the hospital in Denmark Hill.

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