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WATCH: Robots could help patients in Cornwall

WATCH: Robots could help patients in Cornwall

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 8:25am 3rd June 2017.

Cornwall's healthcare braces for robots, drones and apps, as almost £3 million is given in EU funding to improve the use of e-health in the Duchy.

New projects will see things like comforting robots for people with dementia and defibrillators being flown around by drones.

Project director Ray Jones, from Plymouth University, hopes it will not only improve care - but also bring more jobs to the region.

He said: "This is a great opportunity for Cornwall to become a centre of excellence in the use of technology for health and social care.

"It involves people with a range of expertise from across the University, including nursing, medicine, psychology, robotics, business, and public health, working with numerous collaborators across Cornwall and taking a 'bottom up' approach to find or develop technologies that will improve services.

"The project involves an international link with universities in Brisbane Australia. At the end of three years we hope to have found new ways in which Cornwall can 'export' its expertise or services to the rest of the UK or beyond while also effectively delivering health and social care for the whole of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly."

The University of Plymouth and a collaboration of Cornish and national partners have been awarded the £2.7m as part of the project, known as E-health Productivity and Innovation in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (EPIC).

It will involve doctors, nurses, care homes, patients, University academics and small companies in the region to help find the best uses of the internet, apps, and robotics in health and social care.

Funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), EPIC starts this month and runs for three years.

Those behind the plans say initiatives could include use of video calls to better connect care home residents and development and implementation of apps that support people wanting to make positive behavioural changes.

It could also see care robots to comfort people with dementia, or even the use of drones to get emergency equipment to rural locations quickly.

The collaboration includes Kernow Health CIC, Cornwall Partners in Care, Patients Association, and Creative England, who will work to find technologies that can best help improve services, along with those which are, or can be, produced within Cornwall.

Could this be the future of healthcare in Cornwall?


The ERDF grant pays for seven project posts, support for small technology companies and a Challenge Fund of £600,000.

Organisers say grants from this fund will support small and medium-sized enterprises based in Cornwall, offering the potential to create new jobs and support business growth.

Project staff will support clinicians, patients, carers and others in bidding for funds from the Challenge Fund to develop and test their ideas.

Dr Dan Rainbow from Stennack Surgery in St Ives, which will be one of the bases for the work, said: "After 15 years of working with patients in this community, it's obvious that there are gaps in certain areas where I'm sure technology has a role to play in helping to support our patients.

"I think technology has had a fairly chequered history in the NHS over the years, and it's exciting to work with people who understand the technology to build up a way of working with our patients from the grass roots upwards to make it work in practice."

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