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In a world's first, NHS drones deliver chemotherapy to the Isle of Wight

Drugs used for chemotherapy often have a short shelf-life and need to be delivered on time and at regular intervals. Which is a challenge for patients and medical staff on islands and other regions that aren't easily accessible.

Working to solve that problem, the NHS has partnered with medical drone startup Apian to send drugs by drones to the Isle of Wight. A first-of-its-kind trial will see chemo flown directly from the pharmacy at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust to St Mary's Hospital on the island, where the doses will be collected by staff and distributed to hospital teams and patients.

The aircraft will cut the usual shipping time from four hours to 30 minutes, saving money and CO2 emissions. Each delivery by drone is said to replace at least two car journeys and one hovercraft or ferry journey. More importantly, fewer patients will need to travel to the mainland to receive treatment.

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Apian's CEO, Alexander Trewby, underlined the promise and potential of using drones for healthcare: "My mother worked for the NHS in Portsmouth her entire life before she passed away from cancer three years ago. 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 so that in the future, everyone's mother will benefit from the delivery of faster, smarter and greener healthcare.”

Delivering pizza or socks by drone? Probably not a valid reason to create noise pollution and crowded skies ;-) But when it comes to drones for good — keep those unmanned aerial innovations coming!