NHS cancer patients will be the first in the world to benefit from chemotherapy delivered by drone as part of a new trial, chief executive Amanda Pritchard announced today. The drones, set to make their first flight in the coming weeks, will mean that the lifesaving treatment can be picked up and dropped off to patients on the same day.
Declaring the major trial on the NHS’s 74 birthday, NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said the drone deliveries were just the latest “extraordinary” instalment in another year that has showcased innovation and cutting-edge technology. In a first-of-its-kind trial, beginning on the Isle of Wight, chemo will be flown 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.
“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.
“From a smartwatch to manage Parkinson’s to revolutionary prostate treatments and making the most expensive drug in the world available to NHS patients, it has been another amazing year of innovation in the way the health service delivers treatment and care.
“As the NHS turns 74 it is clear that the pace of change and improvement across the health service is only accelerating as our fantastic staff seek to make the most of life-changing advances to improve patients’ lives as we promised in the NHS Long Term Plan,” said NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard.
“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.
“Our upcoming 10-Year Cancer Plan will set out a vision for how we will speed up diagnosis, roll out innovative new treatments and revolutionise cancer services across the country,” said Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid.