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NHS trials drones delivering cancer treatments

Words by Smiley Team

The NHS is beginning trials for same-day delivery of chemotherapy drugs via drone.

It's hoped that drones will eliminate the need for extended travel times, with many patients from the Isle of Wight currently needing to make three or four-hour round trips to collect life-saving drugs.

“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,” said Amanda Pritchard, NHS England’s chief executive.

The NHS says they hope to launch the programme “shortly”, contingent on the results of final test flights.

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The possibility of drones dropping off vital medication has a myriad of amazing implications for people all around the UK. From those who are immunocompromised – and so cannot take public transport – or are vulnerable when visiting healthcare facilities, to those who can't afford the trip to collect their medication, there are so many people who will benefit. 

These drones are part of a collaboration between NHS England and technology company Apian, and they can carry weights of up to 20kg. They weigh 85kg and have a wingspan of 5 metres. 

“This project marks a very important first step in the construction of a network of drone corridors connecting hospitals, pathology labs, GP surgeries, care homes and pharmacies up and down the country,” said Alexander Trewby, Apian’s chief executive.

Though it's been stressed that the scheme is still in the early stages of development, Darren Cattell, the chief executive of the Isle of Wight NHS Trust, said it could have “radical and positive implications for both the NHS and for patients across the UK as well as the Isle of Wight”.

Inspired to act?

DONATE: Give to Cancer Research to help fund life-saving research into cancer treatments.

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