NHS trials delivering chemotherapy drugs using drones

NHS trials deliver chemotherapy drugs using drones
The announcement, made on the NHS’s 74th birthday, will allow drones to pick up life-saving drugs and enable same-day deliveries to patients.

“As the NHS turns 74, it is clear that the pace of change and development in healthcare is only accelerating as our fantastic staff strives to use these life-changing advances to improve patients’ lives, as we promised at NHS Long. A timetable,” NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said.

In the latest trial, chemotherapy drugs will be transported from Portsmouth University Hospitals NHS Trust Pharmacy to St Mary’s Hospital.

Chemopharmaceuticals are difficult to use because of their generally short shelf life. The NHS has teamed up with medical drone startup Apian to ensure medicines are quickly delivered to hospitals to be distributed to patients. “My mother worked all her life for the NHS in Portsmouth before she died of cancer three years ago,” said Apian chief executive Alexander Truby.

“This project represents a very important first step in building a network of drone corridors connecting hospitals, pathology laboratories, GP surgeries, care homes, and pharmacies across the country so that in the future mothers will benefit from all deliveries of faster, smarter, and greener healthcare”.

Apian’s use of drones is expected to reduce the average delivery time of medicines from four hours to 30 minutes.

“I want England to be a world leader in cancer care and using the latest technology to deliver chemotherapy via drones means patients have faster and fairer access to treatment, no matter where they live,” said Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid.

“As the NHS turns 74, innovations like this will help improve patient access to life-saving care, while the NHS makes the best use of the record funding we’ve invested to break through the COVID backlog.”

The UK has a long way to go to become a world leader in cancer care. Especially for stomach and lung cancer, the country has one of the lowest survival rates.

The forthcoming ’10-year plan to fight cancer’ aims to improve the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in the UK. Public consultation on ideas and evidence on the plan closed on 8 April 2022.

“Our upcoming 10-year cancer plan sets out a vision for how we can speed up diagnosis, introduce new treatments and transform cancer services across the country,” added Javid…

As well as helping to ensure immediate access to life-saving medicines for patients, the use of drones in the NHS will reduce their environmental impact. The NHS aims to become the first health system in the world to be carbon neutral.

The NHS says each drone delivery will replace at least two journeys by car and one journey by hovercraft or ferry.

“Chemotherapy delivery by drone is another fantastic advance for cancer patients and shows how the NHS will stop at nothing to ensure people get the treatment they need as quickly as possible – while reducing costs and carbon emissions,” added Pritchard.

“From a smartwatch to treat Parkinson’s disease, to a revolutionary prostate treatment and making the world’s most expensive drug available to NHS patients, it’s been another amazing year of innovation in the way the health service delivers treatment and care.”