Doctor witness space technology potential for NHS

Professor Tony Young led a delegation of leading doctors to witness demonstrations of space technology that could be adapted for use in the NHS.

Visiting the UK Space Agency and the Satellite Applications Catapult at the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire, the delegation saw examples of environmental monitoring, whereby sufferers could make informed decisions about care as a result of air quality in their area, and satellite broadband, which could give ambulance services real time patient information that allows them to send vital details ahead to hospitals.

Furthermore, technology originally developed to explore the solar system is already in use in the NHS, such as a wearable monitor that helps elderly and vulnerable people avoid falls uses microelectromechanical (MEMS) gyroscope equipment and cancer screening vans, which beam images directly back to assessment centres in a trial funded by the UK Space Agency’s Space for Smarter Government Programme.

Young said: “In the NHS’s 70th year we are using satellite technology to revolutionise breast cancer screening by beaming scans back to hospitals from mobile screening units next to shopping centres and speeding up diagnoses.”

Emily Gravestock, UK Space Agency head of Applications, said: “Technology from space is already improving our daily lives, and health is no exception. The NHS breast screening vans are a great example of how Britain’s world-leading space industry has come up with an innovative solution to support vital public services. As our space sector continues to grow, with support the support of government’s Industrial Strategy, these opportunities will only increase.”

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