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  1. ITV Report

5G remote-controlled ultrasound scans 'will save lives and reduce waiting times'

Ultrasound scans use high frequency sound waves to create a picture of the inside of a body Credit: ITV News Central

The first remote-controlled ultrasound scans have been showcased by staff at BT and the University Hospitals Birmingham.

The practice is made possible due to the rollout of new super-fast 5G mobile networks, which allow lots of data to be transferred at rapid speeds whilst on the go.

For the emergency services, it means that paramedics can perform tasks that they might not normally be able to do, such as ultrasound scans.

9.5m
Ultrasound scans carried out last year in England.

Ultrasound scans use high frequency sound waves to create a picture of the inside of a body.

This information is usually analysed by a doctor, who is then able to make a diagnosis.

The procedure is usually performed inside a hospital, but thanks to 5G, it can be performed inside a moving ambulance.

Medical staff back at the hospital are able to control the ultrasound scan through a special device Credit: ITV News Central

The remote-controlled ultrasound scan is performed using a special glove which is worn by the paramedic.

It is controlled by hospital staff who use a machine to guide the glove to the certain areas of the body.

The glove vibrates, directing the paramedic's hand to the area the hospital staff want to inspect.

Information is then sent back to the hospital in real-time, allowing doctors to make a more accurate diagnosis and send the patient to the most appropriate hospital.

Healthcare professionals say the technology will save lives and reduce waiting times.

Paramedics are an extraordinarily well trained and highly-skilled group of individuals, particularly in emergency care. But ultrasound is not something they would do every day. So this sort of extends the arm if you like of a consultant in the hospital all the way into the ambulance and allows me or one of my colleagues to do an ultrasound in real time using the skills of a paramedic.

– Dr Tom Clutton-Brock, University of Birmingham
Paramedic use a special glove which is remotely-controlled by staff at a hospital Credit: ITV News Central

Last year the West Midlands was selected as the first multi-city test bed for 5G mobile connectivity.

As part of the multi-million pound project, the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has set up WM5G to develop a large scale 5G pilot across the region to trail new 5G applications and services at scale.