Scotland is using drones to deliver medical supplies

Scotland is set to begin trials for the collection and delivery of NHS medical supplies and samples using drones in an effort to improve current transportation methods.

Drones will operate to and from multiple healthcare facilities between Angus and Dundee assisting with the response to Covid.

The first drone trials will begin in March, a move which Angus Council leader councillor David Fairweather described as a step in ‘transforming’ the healthcare system for the region.

The new transportation method aims to provide the NHS with an on-demand collection and delivery service, allowing samples to be collected from local medical practices for analysis at pathology laboratories at larger hospitals using a quicker and more reliable service.

‘This level of improvement could potentially allow life-saving treatment to be able to commence earlier by reducing testing times, speeding up diagnoses for patients, all at a reduced cost to the NHS by reducing the reliance on expensive taxi transportation that currently exists,’ said Fairweather.

‘As the significant demands continue for Covid-19 testing, we are delighted to lead the way through innovative technologies to increase connectivity with our rural facilities, at a time that the NHS requires greater support,’ he added.

UK Government Minister for Scotland Iain Stewart said investment from south of the border into Mercury Drone Ports – which is conducting the trial – will put Scotland ‘at the forefront of innovation’ and help bring in new jobs to Angus.

‘Drones have huge potential in Scotland, from connecting health services to remote communities, to helping maintain renewable energy installations, to assisting with Scottish aquaculture and environmental monitoring,’ said Stewart.

Stewart also said that the UK Government is supporting the use of drones in the west of Scotland at Oban to improve services in communities across Scotland.

Mercury Drone Ports will be based within the ZeroFour Hub, a 123-acre commercial development site near Montrose. The new hub, along with the drone port, forms part of Angus Council’s long-term plans to create renewable solutions for transportation and energy across Angus and the wider Tay Cities region.

The drone delivery system has been funded by the UK Government’s £26.5 million Angus Fund, as part of the Tay Cities Region Deal with the Mercury Drone Ports created in a public-private partnership between Angus Council and UK-based drones company DTLX.

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