NHS testing cancer drug drone delivery to Isle of Wight



The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is to test using drones to fly chemotherapy drugs to cancer patients in the Isle of Wight to cut journey times.

The eVTOLs, built by UK-based, Skylift and supplied in partnership with tech specialist, Apian, will transport doses from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight a few miles off the UK’s south coast. If the trial is successful drones will begin to be used for similar drops elsewhere.

The drones will take 30 minutes to travel across the Solent, saving patients on island a three to four-hour round trip usually by ferry.

Amanda Pritchard, NHS England’s chief executive, said: “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.”

The first drone deliveries will start “shortly”, NHS England said, subject to the outcome of the last of a series of test flights this week. The drones weigh 85kg, have a wingspan of 5m and can carry up to 20kg.

The NHS plans to use the eVTOLs to collect the medications from the Queen Alexandra hospital in Portsmouth and fly them to St Mary’s hospital on the Isle of Wight.

Darren Cattell, chief executive, Isle of Wight NHS Trust, said: “We are still at a relatively early stage [of drone use in healthcare].” But that drones could have “radical and positive implications for both the NHS and for patients across the UK, as well as the Isle of Wight”.