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Funding secured for Scottish medical drone network

A network of drones could soon be playing a vital role in connecting NHS services in Scotland – including pathology laboratories - after the project secured £10.1 million in funding.

The consortium led by AGS Airports in partnership with NHS Scotland is developing the UK’s first medical distribution network using drones, with the investment coming from the Future Flight Challenge at UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

It is the second successful round of funding for the Care & Equity – Healthcare Logistics UAS Scotland (CAELUS) consortium which brings together 16 partners including the University of Strathclyde, NATS, and NHS Scotland. They are working to deliver what will be the first national drone network that can transport essential medicines, bloods and other medical supplies throughout Scotland including to remote communities.

The consortium secured its first investment in 2020 and has since designed drone landing stations for NHS sites across Scotland and developed a virtual model (digital twin) of the proposed delivery network which connects hospitals, pathology laboratories, distribution centres, and GP surgeries across Scotland.

The second phase of the project wlil now involve live flight trials and removing remaining barriers to safely using drones at scale within Scotland’s airspace.

Fiona Smith, AGS Airports' group head of aerodrome strategy and CAELUS project director commented: “The CAELUS project is set to revolutionise the way in which healthcare services are delivered in Scotland. A drones network can ensure critical medical supplies can be delivered more efficiently, it can reduce waiting times for test results and, more importantly, it can provide equity of care between urban and remote rural communities.

“The second round of funding from UKRI will allow our consortium to undertake live flights and begin to deploy the physical infrastructure needed to support the drones across Scotland. We will also work with local communities to ensure they understand why and how the drones will be used.”

Gary Cutts, future flight challenge director at UKRI said: “With the potential to quickly deliver medicines, bloods and other medical supplies on demand, the CAELUS project laid the groundwork for revolutionising health care access across Scotland. We know these technologies can change people’s lives, but it’s important we work with communities to understand how they will best benefit from them. By working with local communities and taking a national approach CAELUS 2 will strengthen heath care provision in Scotland.”

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Upcoming Events

Point of Care: Innovations

The Bristol - Harbourside (Doyle Collection) hotel
20 September 2022

Arab Lab Live 2022

Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre Dubai World Trade Centre - Trade Centre - Trade Centre 2 - Dubai - United Arab Emirates
24 - 26 October 2022

Lab Innovations 2022

Hall 2 NEC, Birmingham
2 & 3 November 2022

MEDICA 2022

Messe Düsseldorf D-40474 Düsseldorf, Stockumer Kirchstraße 61
14 - 17 November 2022

Meeting demand: the changing picture of diagnostics

The King's Fund, London, W1G 0AN
16 November 2022

Access the latest issue of Pathology In Practice on your mobile device together with an archive of back issues.

Download the FREE Pathology In Practice app from your device's App store

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