Skybus Gets Temporary Licence To Carry Medical Samples

skybus-planes-at-airportThe Civil Aviation Authority has given the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company special dispensation to carry medical samples on its Skybus flights, before fully completing their application for the carriage of dangerous goods.

Steamship Company Commercial manager Nick Sanders confirmed yesterday that the new arrangements started on Monday.

Concerns about the 18-month delay in getting a licence to carry blood and tissue samples by air were raised by councillors in last month’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

Chairman Adrian Davis said the Steamship Company told him this was due to the CAA regulations, which require high levels of training by all staff who handle the goods.

This includes two weeks spent at Gatwick for some staff, being taught to be trainers themselves.

The temporary arrangement will run until the end of April when the CAA expects the Company to be granted a permanent licence.

In a letter sent in response to questions by Lord Berkeley in February, the CAA said they were “fully aware of the important nature” of transporting samples from the islands and were keen to support Skybus in complying with the regulations.

Lord Berkeley says Newquay Airport has also offered to train Skybus staff, which could save them having to travel to Gatwick.

Lord Berkeley says it’s clear there are many lessons to be learned from the delay.

Without apportioning blame, he says, it’s clear that better communication and transparency between all the relevant parties, as well as much more frequent questioning and chasing for responses, would have helped.

The Steamship Company already has a licence for its sea operations, enabling it to carry patient specimens, but this means blood tests and other routine treatments have to be timed to coincide with sailings of the Scillonian III and Gry Maritha.

Lead GP for the islands, Dr John Garman said the temporary CAA licence is really good news for patients, as it will mean that they can send blood tests on a much more regular basis than they’ve been able to over the winter.

He said the Health Centre had worked hard to try and keep the blood clinics as regular as possible but this will add to patient safety as they’ll be able to check bloods when they need to, as opposed to having to stick to a timetable t determined by the schedule of the Gry.

But John said he wanted to thank to the crew of the Gry for their invaluable assistance, which has ensured they’ve been able to maintain a service over the very difficult winter period.

He added that the new point of care blood testing machines were installed at the hospital this week, so access to essential diagnostics has taken a significant leap forward on Scilly.

“We’ll now be able to care for more people closer to home as a result,” he says.