Drone deliveries of medical supplies are tested by Northumberland hospitals

NHS Northumbria Healthcare is employing the drone

A NHS trust will use drones to move medical supplies between hospitals at up to 70 mph.

For the next four months, the drone will be used to transport mail, supplies, equipment, chemotherapy drugs, and blood samples between Northumberland hospitals.

Six flights per day will be offered at first, rising to about 15 in May.

The geography of the county, according to Northumbria Healthcare, would "reduce delivery times, make efficiencies, and cut carbon emissions.".

Although a pilot project in Hampshire and the trial were both announced seven months ago, the trial has just begun.

The unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which can travel from Wansbeck General Hospital in Ashington up to Alnwick Infirmary and then on to Berwick Infirmary, can transport up to 3kg of medical supplies.

Chemotherapy supplies will be flown from Alnwick to Berwick Infirmary and back, while pathology samples will be delivered to Wansbeck by return flights from Alnwick and Berwick.

Along the route, a qualified pilot will keep an eye on the drone's flight.

There is no chance of packages being dropped, according to Apian, the company funding the trial, as they will be kept in the hold in a "robust safety case.".

According to Sir James Mackey, CEO of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, "having effective logistics to get supplies where they need to be is vital given the area we cover and the number of hospitals and other sites we manage. ".

Additionally, they were "always mindful of our need to drive efficiencies and reduce our impact on the environment," he added.

"We are eager to see how the test flights go," he continued. "Using drones has the potential to help us deliver important drugs and supplies in a better, smarter way.

The trial, which is ongoing until May 12th, will collect information from both staff and patients while also assessing its environmental impact.

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