Page last updated at 23:17 GMT, Thursday, 25 September 2008 00:17 UK

Pilot for 'wireless' ambulances

Leaf on Scottish Ambulance Service sign
Live images would be beamed from ambulances to hospitals

Cameras beaming live pictures over wireless broadband from ambulances to hospitals to speed up treatment will be tested on the Western Isles.

Delegates at a conference on telehealth - the delivery of health care in remote areas using technology - in Stornoway were briefed on the latest pilot.

Island and mainland hospitals routinely share pictures and information using the latest technology.

But it is now hoped to make the isles a centre of excellence in the field.

'Hour's drive'

John Angus Mackay, NHS Western Isles board chairman, said simulations have been run to see how the ambulance to hospital system would work.

He said: "Signals were dubbed through an aerial on the top of the ambulance and beamed to a local incident room simulating what would happen in the real world if you had that system set up."

The aim would be to let doctors see images of a patient and get a sense of what was wrong with them before they reach the hospital.

An early decision could also be made to transfer the patient immediately to larger hospital in Inverness or Glasgow.

Mr Mackay said: "That patient maybe an hour's drive away in parts of the Western Isles."

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