Tech gurus are in talks with the UK’s air safety bosses to pave the way for widespread medical drone deliveries by next year. They are hoping to expand trials which are currently using drones in certain parts of the country to slash delivery times and ease pressures on the NHS.
There are fears the impact of strikes, traffic congestion in urban areas and unpredictable weather can prevent vital medical supplies from being delivered on time.
Skyfarer is one of the specialist firms hoping to “open up the skies” to increase the use of medical drone deliveries, which it believes help patients receive swift access to medicines, vaccines, medical devices, blood units and time-sensitive medical supplies.
It believes the use of drones could help to revolutionise the supply of healthcare.
But suppliers first need to prove they can conform to complicated safety rules set out by the Civil Aviation Authority, the official body responsible for air safety.
This could include proof that the signal from the drones will not interfere with other aircraft and that the drones are not at risk of crashing into other air traffic.
Founder and managing director of Skyfarer, Elliot Parnham, pregabalin uk price said: “We want to provide a service to society and we believe we have the technology to ensure that we do not impact other flight routes or interrupt other flight paths.
“We want to increase the scale of this work and change the whole structure of airspace so we can create a corridor for networks of drones day in, day out. We believe drones can provide a service to society and we are working with the Civil Aviation Authority to open up the skies.
“We are hoping we will have final sign-off for this by 2024. This would mean we can use drones to deliver medicines in a same-day fashion but also other healthcare products such as hip replacements, blood units and chemotherapy drugs.”
Skyfarer is running a trial funded by and in partnership with Medical Logistics UK using drones to send medical supplies between University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire Trust’s hospitals in Coventry and Rugby.
Georgia Hanrahan, Skyfarer project manager, said: “As a result of significant road congestion and heavy infrastructure, we believe the use of drones can help support medical deliveries and speed up the process.
“There are no potholes in the sky, nor is there as much congestion, and without the need for heavy infrastructure to land, unmanned aerial vehicles can add to the fleet of logistical transfers and provide a faster, more sustainably friendly and cheaper solution.”
Last summer, the NHS used drones to fly chemotherapy drugs to cancer patients from Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust to St Mary’s Hospital on the Isle of Wight as part of a different trial.
The drones were able to fly 30 minutes across the Solent, saving patients on the island a three to four-hour round trip by ferry or hovercraft.
An NHS trust in Northumbria has also trialled the use of drones to transport chemotherapy medicines and blood samples between hospitals in the region.
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