NHS cancer patients on the Isle of Wight will become the first in the world to benefit from a trial which will deliver chemotherapy treatment by a drone, the NHS has announced.
With the first flight set to take place in the next few weeks, the drones will mean that crucial lifesaving treatment can be dispatched to patients on the same day, reducing delivery times from four hours to 30 minutes.
Revealing the major trial on the NHS’s 74th birthday, chief executive Amanda Pritchard said the drone deliveries were just the latest “extraordinary” instalment in another year that has showcased NHS innovation and cutting-edge technology.
“Delivering chemo by drone is another extraordinary development for cancer patients and shows how the NHS will stop at nothing to ensure people get the treatment they need as promptly as possible – while also cutting costs and carbon emissions,” she said.
This is a project where the NHS has partnered with tech company Apian to come up with a new way to supply treatment to patients.
The very first flight will occur directly from the pharmacy at Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust to St Mary’s Hospital, where staff will collect it before distributing it to hospital teams and patients.
Isle of Wight NHS Trust CEO Darren Cattell said: “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.”
The drones themselves weigh approximately 85kg, have a wingspan of 5 metres and can carry up to 20kg of treatment.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “I want England to become a world leader in cancer care and 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.”
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