Drone programme will be trialled initially on Isle of Wight
O NHS is set to trial drone deliveries of chemotherapy drugs in a bid to slash waiting times for vital medications from four hours to just 30 minutos.
Announcing the scheme as the NHS marked its 74th birthday on 5 julho, health service officials said they hope the use of drones will one day enable doctors to offer “same-day delivery” orders for drugs and medical equipment from anywhere in England.
The health secretary contined: “Using the latest technology to deliver chemo by drone means patients will have quicker, fairer access to treatment no matter where they live.
“As the NHS turns 74, innovations like this will help improve patients’ access to lifesaving care while ensuring the NHS is making the best use of the record funding we’re investing to bust the Covid backlogs.”
A pilot scheme will be launched to assess the exactly how drones might be of use to the health service. The intial trial will see a drone courier chemotherapy drugs from the pharmacy at Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust to St Mary’s Hospital on the Isle of Wight.
In addition to cutting delivery times, the NHS also says that the use of the technology will simplify the complicated transport routes for the deliveries – with one flight able to replace two car journeys and one hovercraft or ferry journey.
Chemotherapy drugs are particularly difficult to transport as some doses have a short shelf life, according to health service officials.
And Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of NHS Inglaterra, called the drone trials “another extraordinary development for cancer patients”.
She also said it showed how the health service “will stop at nothing to ensure people get the treatment they need as promptly as possible – while also cutting costs and carbon emissions.”
Ms Pritchard added: “From a smartwatch to manage Parkinson’s to revolutionary prostate treatments and making the most expensive drug in the world available to NHS patients it has been another amazing year of innovation in the way the health service delivers treatment and care.
As well as saving time and money, the new delivery method, launched in partnership with tech company Apian, will offer a better option for cancer patients living on the Isle of Wight, many of whom have to travel to the mainland for treatment, officials added.
The drone programme will be trialled first on the island followed by Northumbria.
Darren Cattell, chief executive of Isle of Wight NHS Trust, disse: “The island has a long history of innovation. We are excited to continue that tradition by utilising the latest technology to overcome the challenges we face and to provide the very best service to our patients.
“We are still at a relatively early stage but the use of drones to transport medical supplies is a concept that has radical and positive implications for both the NHS and for patients across the UK as well as the Isle of Wight. It is great to be part of this innovative project.”