The revolutionary idea has been announced today by the government as part of a multi-million pound scheme to modernise hospitals.
Up to £5m of UK Space Agency funding is being made available to support a joint initiative with the Hampshire Together: Modernising our Hospitals and Health Services scheme.
The programme is part of the government’s £3.7bn health and infrastructure plan to build 40 new hospitals across England by 2030.
Innovators are being sought to show how space tech could be integrated into a new hospital to improve treatment and relieve strain on NHS staff.
Among the ideas include new hi-tech diagnostic tools, using drones to deliver vital medical supplies or video link rehabilitation programmes for recovering patients.
Announcing the scheme today, science minister Amanda Solloway said: ‘The UK is a world leader in using space technology and data to tackle the challenges we face on Earth, and this initiative is another example of how one of our most thriving sectors is driving improvements in everyday life.
‘As we build back better from the pandemic, I am confident that UK businesses large and small will come forward to produce some truly awe-inspiring ideas to help design this space-age hospital, support our heroic NHS staff and ultimately save lives.’
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Space is already playing a key role in supporting healthcare. The UK Space Agency has provided cash for projects to help the NHS tackle the coronavirus pandemic, including electric drones that navigate via satellite-enabled GPS, carrying Covid-19 samples, test-kits and PPE
Meanwhile, health technologies inspired by space-aged kit have helped provide real-time diagnosis of bowel cancer and developed more compact 3D X-ray machines.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘This trailblazing collaboration – bringing together exceptional scientists from the UK Space Agency and Hampshire Together – will help us apply space age innovations to building hospitals of the future.
‘The UK is unashamedly pro-tech and these government-backed medical advancements will give our amazing NHS access to some of the most innovative technologies.’
Tony Mears, associate director of innovation for the Hampshire Together programme, said the funding could transform healthcare across the country.
‘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,’ he added.
‘The UK Space Agency has really helped the NHS to overcome the challenges posed by Covid-19 and we are excited to see how we can use this innovation-by-nature sector to help provide the best health and care services for people across Hampshire in the future.’
A panel of experts, including representatives from the UK Space Agency, Hampshire Together and European Space Agency, will assess the proposals.
The 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.
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