Purpose of this change
This proposal is for a Temporary Danger Area (TDA), for which a scaled airspace change process applies and a change level is not applicable. The detailed process requirements are published in the Temporary Danger Area Policy Statement.
Skylift UAV Limited are undertaking a 12-week trial on behalf of Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust and Isle of Wight NHS Trust to transport chemotherapy drugs between Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth and St Mary’s Hospital in Newport, Isle of Wight, using unmanned aircraft.
COVID-19 is directly disrupting the ability of Isle of Wight NHS Trust to procure chemotherapy for its cancer patients. As the Trust does not have a Pharmacy Manufacturing Unit of its own, it is wholly dependent on Portsmouth Trust for the supply of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy drugs have a short shelf-life (8-24 hours) and since there is a (pre-COVID-19) 3 to 4-hour travel time between the hospitals (2 taxis and a ferry), the chemotherapy must be manufactured before the patient is confirmed as able to attend or receive the treatment. COVID-19 has had a negative impact on this issue as it is causing disruption to the ferry companies through suspensions, delays and changing timetables. This is making it difficult for St Mary’s Hospital to organise chemotherapy deliveries and sessions. If a patient is unable to receive the chemotherapy, it is wasted. Importantly COVID-19 has made it harder to reschedule the missed session, which is clinically more imperative to organise.
Reducing the delivery time to a 32-minute direct flight between the two hospitals would be transformative, as the chemotherapy could be manufactured once patients are confirmed as able to receive treatment, before being delivered on-demand. Moreover, unnecessary patient and staff travel could be eliminated, and costs reduced as chemotherapy is saved from wastage and taxis/ferries are bypassed. Furthermore, sustainability improvements will be measured.
Faster, on-demand delivery of chemotherapy to St Mary’s Hospital would respond to the Isle of Wight NHS Trust’s call for help to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19. In addition, other time-sensitive items, such as swabs, blood tests, vaccines, PPE, test kits, testing reagents and blood units could be transported between the two hospitals. To these ends, beyond visual line of sight unmanned aircraft operations will be required and, in accordance with CAP 1915, such operations must be conducted within segregated airspace. CAP 1915 states that the primary method for achieving this is by application for a Temporary Danger Area (TDA). Skylift UAV Limited therefore request the establishment of a TDA to segregate their operations accordingly.