The programme, Hampshire Together: Modernising our Hospitals and Health Services programme, offers up to £5 million of UK Space Agency funding and is part of the UK Government’s Health Infrastructure Plan, which aims for the provision of 40 new hospitals across England by 2030.
According to the official UK Government website GOV.UK, the new hospital could use technologies and techniques pioneered on missions to Mars or the International Space Station to help treat patients and make life easier for hardworking NHS staff.
GOV.UK notes that the ‘space-enabled services’ might include new diagnostic tools, improved logistics by tracing goods or using drones, improving hospital parking or better patient reach using tele-rehabilitation or care. “Health technologies inspired by space technologies have helped provide real-time diagnosis of bowel cancer, developed more compact 3D X-ray machines, and improved healthcare in the community through both remote diagnostics and an app targeting people at risk of social isolation and mental health issues,” the website reads.
Innovative ideas to improve healthcare services across the country
Tony Mears, Associate Director of Innovation for the Hampshire Together programme, said: “We are delighted to be working with the UK Space Agency as part of our programme. It opens up new opportunities for us in terms of innovation and technology and shows our commitment to incorporating new ideas into our plans for the future.”
GOV.UK explains that successful projects – which could be new ideas, or using technology that already exists in a different way to support healthcare – will then be incorporated in any new facility, as well as the wider health system. And, where appropriate, these ideas will also be used to improve services across the area before the construction of any new buildings.
Space technology essential to addressing existing and new challenges
“In the past but also more recently throughout the Covid-19 crisis, the use of space technologies and satellite data has proven to be an essential driver for innovation in the healthcare sector to address existing and new challenges,” said Arnaud Runge, Medical Engineer at ESA’s European Space Research and Technology Centre. “We are delighted to extend our fruitful collaboration with the UK Space Agency and NHS in this exciting initiative and demonstrate how space can contribute today to shape the hospital of tomorrow.”
Using technology to address and solve problems in the healthcare system is no new feat – just look at how the uptake of telemedicine surged globally in response to the social distancing and remote-care requirements of the Covid-19 pandemic. With the arrival of new ‘space-age’ technologies, assistance providers will no doubt also benefit, as their policyholders in the UK will have improved access to state-of-the-art care, improving access to care and patient outcomes.