NHS Innovations

London, 18–19 June 2009

NHS Innovations, London
NHS Innovations, London

The ambulance of the future – the Smart Pod – was unveiled to the NHS and the healthcare industry for the first time, at the NHS Innovation Expo at the Excel Centre in London.

The Innovation Expo brings together NHS exhibitors from across England as well as leading healthcare companies, showcasing the very best of healthcare innovations from the UK and around the world.
Smart Pod’s revolutionary design takes the best features from the present day ambulance and combines them with revolutionary new functions including an expandable mobile treatment centre and Smart Infection Control along with a raft of clinical innovations which ulitise state of the art communications technologies.

Research shows that up to 50% of patients currently taken to hospital following a 999 call – at least one million per year – could safely be treated at home in a Smart Pod. This remarkable statistic suggests that millions of pounds of public money could be saved and ploughed back into supporting other NHS activities.

The Smart Pod ambulance can park up anywhere, providing immediate on-the-spot treatment facilities for patients. In addition, the Smart Pod can provide fast effective treatment in an emergency or a major incident. It also is able to fulfil the traditional function of an ambulance, in that patients can receive medical attention whilst being transported to hospital, where necessary.

Expanding sections within the Smart Pod offer privacy and temporary treatment facilities, whilst simultaneously relaying real-time information about the patient’s condition ahead to Control at A&E.  

Smart Pod is a multidisciplinary research project funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and co-lead by the Royal College of Art Helen Hamlyn Centre and Loughborough University.

Professor Jonathan Benger from The University of the West of England, part of the research team behind the Smart Pod, and one of the UK’s leading consultants in emergency medicine, says:

"Although NHS clinical staffs, such as paramedics and nurses, have the necessary skills to treat people on-the-spot, emergency vehicles have not evolved to provide the necessary facilities. Smart Pod includes a range of revolutionary mobile and portable technologies that transcend the limitations of current ambulance vehicles and equipment."

Dave Whiting, Director of East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust adds:

“We welcome this important area of research and look forward to developing these concepts and systems further. This research is very important in providing practical information that will be vital in future pilot scheme and procurements of the Smart Pod.“

Smart Pod is in the initial stages of development but could be something rolled-out across the NHS if a pilot scheme proves to be successful.  The multidisciplinary design team behind the research as well as participating NHS Trusts are now well into discussions over the future of these new designs.


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