EMED Group, a leading healthcare logistic provider for the NHS, partnered with Skyports Drone Services to conduct a proof-of-concept project that aims to innovate and bring sustainability to medical courier services.
The trial, initiated in June 2023 and lasting for four weeks, was conducted in collaboration with the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT). During this period, over 400 pathology samples were transported between two ESNEFT locations, emphasizing the potential of drone operations to complement existing medical courier services, benefiting both patients and healthcare professionals.
Craig Smith, the CEO of EMED Group, shared the potential advantages of the project. He highlighted the environmental benefits and the effectiveness of drone delivery in avoiding typical road network delays, which can be crucial for the timely diagnosis of medical conditions.
Alex Brown, Director of Skyports Drone Services, emphasized the importance of projects like this, stating their role in showcasing the efficiency, safety, and simplicity of implementing drone services in medical logistics.
Shelley Garrey from ESNEFT remarked on the potential of using drones for faster healthcare delivery, emphasizing the time and resources saved.
The deliveries during this trial employed the Skyports Drone Services' Swoop Aero Kookaburra III aircraft, a fixed-wing drone with a 3kg payload capacity. Skyports has previously utilized this drone model for multiple medical delivery missions, covering extensive distances.
One of the significant benefits of using drones for these deliveries is the substantial reduction in carbon emissions. Compared to a standard diesel van covering 77,080 miles across four sites annually, a single-drone operation could save 22.72 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.
For safety, the drones operate approximately 100 meters above the ground and use designated corridors to ensure minimal interference with other airspace users.