Many on the Isle of Wight probably spotted a Chinook helicopter flying over Newport this lunchtime. It was all part of a rehearsal for the Royal Air Force to be able to support of the IoW NHS Trust during the COVID-19 emergency, if required.
The RAF undertook a short exercise, landing the CH47 Chinook helicopter at Seaclose Park to test and evaluate longstanding helicopter landing site procedures, should they be needed. The site would be used to transfer patients as a part of the contribution being made by the military in support of the IoW NHS Trust during the emergency.
A local coastguard team secured and marked the landing site, and the aircraft landed and was on the ground for a short time while the patient transfer process was tested. No actual patients were involved in the exercise. The returned to the mainland after the exercise had been carried out.
It was part of the long-standing arrangements using Seaclose for patient transfer. Seaclose was for many years the main helicopter landing site for St Mary’s, until a dedicated helipad was built at the hospital site.
The park was not closed for the procedure, but the exercise was not publicised beforehand to try to avoid attracting members of the public to Seaclose.