Drones to demo blood delivery for Welsh NHS

Posted on 26 June, 2024 by Advance 

Aerospace innovators will showcase cutting-edge technology to healthcare and government leaders in Llanbedr next month (11th July), as part of a project to ready the Welsh NHS for drone-based services.
Above: Snowdonia Aerospace Centre (SAC).
Courtesy SAC
Next month, aerospace innovators will showcase cutting-edge technology to healthcare and government leaders in Llanbedr next month, as part of a project to ready the Welsh NHS for drone-based services.

The event is set to take place on 11th July at the prestigious Snowdonia Aerospace Centre, an ex-RAF site overlooked by Mount Snowdon.
Snowdonia Aerospace Centre and SLiNK-TECH were selected as winners of the UKRI Future Flight Challenge (in partnership with the Department of Health and Social Care), to develop a concept for a drone-based service to transfer blood products.  
Since April, the businesses have been working alongside the Welsh Ambulance Service Trust (WAST) and Welsh Blood Service (WBS) to develop the concept and consider other ways in which NHS Wales' supply chain could be improved with drone infrastructure.  
Wales' unique geography and low population density means that moving healthcare supplies across the country and reaching the most remote communities can be a challenge, with very real consequences for patients.  
With the support of a drone network, supply chains can become more agile and cut across a road network that can be slow, dangerous and busy with traffic.
Through a series of workshops, the Future Flight Challenge winners have collected the views and experiences of frontline staff and senior managers to envision how drone technology could tackle some of the pressures healthcare staff face every day.  
The organisations will use this information to build a business case and roadmap for consideration by Welsh government at the end of the year.  

Above: SLiNK-TECH's system, PORTAL.
Courtesy SLiNK
The day at Snowdonia Aerospace Centre in July will feature live demonstrations of advanced technology from SLiNK-TECH's system, PORTAL, talks led by industry experts and excellent networking opportunities.  
Representatives from the Welsh Government will be in attendance, along with leaders in policy and innovation from across the Welsh NHS and delegates from the Civil Aviation Authority.

Health Minister, Andrew Stephenson: “Technology has huge potential to transform the NHS for patients but it can also help automate processes behind the scenes too.

“These projects will help future-proof our medical supply chains by using drones to deliver medical products, reducing the chances of supply disruption while saving costs, energy and resources.

“If successful, they could be rolled out across the NHS to boost resilience and help people live more independent lives, building on the government’s long-term ambitions.”

Above: Artistic render of vertiport.
Courtesy SLiNK
Future Flight Challenge Deputy Director, Simon Masters: “The Future Flight Challenge is committed to leading a revolution in aviation, delivering technology solutions with economic and societal benefits. This partnership between the drone industry and the medical sector highlights the value that drones can bring to our front-line public services. We are excited to be working with these new projects and exploring how new types of vehicles can be applied to NHS supply chain challenges.”

Founded in 2018SLiNK-TECH Ltd (SLiNK) is a Bristol, UK-based technology company, pioneering drone and vertiport automation solutions and has been developing their advanced landing solution built to scale the future of flight economy, enabling safe, low cost, automated drone launch and landing with minimal infrastructure in any environment.
The UK Research and Innovation Future Flight Challenge is a £300 million programme, co-funded by government and industry, that is supporting the creation of the aviation ecosystem needed to accelerate the introduction of advanced air mobility (AAM), drones and electric sub-regional aircraft in the UK.

Delivered by Innovate UK and the Economic and Social Research Council, the programme works with industry, academia, government and regulators to transform how we connect people, transport goods and deliver services in a sustainable way that provides socioeconomic benefits using new types of air vehicles with novel technologies.