A REMOTE town is to get a £270,000 hospital helipad, thanks to the efforts of an ambulance worker from Neilston.

Residents of Campbeltown, in Argyll and Bute, requiring emergency medical treatment normally have to be airlifted to Glasgow, Clydebank or Paisley – almost 150 miles away.

Currently, the helicopter has to land up to three times a day in a muddy playing field.

And ambulances often get stuck in the mud when taking patients to the chopper from nearby Campbeltown Hospital.

Coastguard staff must also be on duty each time the helicopter lands, to make sure there is no danger to the public.

Stuart McLellan, who has lived in Neilston all his life, got the helipad idea while visiting family members in Campbeltown.

He could not believe helicopters were having to land in such hazardous and basic conditions on a daily basis.

Stuart, 26, said: “It’s been a two-year battle to get the go-ahead and funding because, at first, no-one in authority wanted anything to do with it.

“The community had been trying for years to get their own helipad but no-one was listening to them.

“We had to overcome a lot of red tape to get to where we are now. I had to obtain permission from both the council, who own the playing field, and the Civil Aviation Authority to have it built.

“A planning application has now been submitted and we are hoping to get permission for the helipad in eight weeks’ time.

“With any luck, we could have it built and operational by next March.”

The £270,000 funding comes from the Helicopter Emergency Landing Pads Appeal (HELP), run by the County Air Ambulance Trust.

Stuart added: “The demand for this service has never been greater, particularly with the number of Covid patients needing airlifted.

“The only alternative is for people to be picked up at Campbeltown Airport, which can cause delays of up to 90 minutes for patients who have suffered strokes, heart attack or serious head injuries.

“It can also take an ambulance up to four hours to drive to Glasgow, so that is out of the question.”

Stuart has worked for the Scottish Ambulance Service for the last eight years.

He is currently a technician in Kilmarnock.

Stuart is also part of a team of first responders who go out to emergencies to assist paramedics and is a member of the Neilston Development Trust.

Robert Bertram, chief executive of the County Air Ambulance Trust and HELP Appeal, said: “Having a purpose-built helipad at Campbeltown Hospital means that time will be saved in transporting critically-ill patients to the emergency department after landing and, therefore, more lives could be saved.”

A spokesman for Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership added: “We are delighted to be working with Mr McLellan and the other partners in the development of the helipad project and we look forward to continuing to work with them over the coming months.”