Hospital trust launches pioneering healthcare partnership with cruise lines

Michael Marsh with staff in medical centre

Clinicians and scientists at Southampton’s university hospitals have launched a pioneering healthcare partnership with cruise companies P&O Cruises and Cunard Line.

In the first agreement of its kind, specialists at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust now routinely assess and repair ship medical equipment, perform specimen testing and examine x-rays and scans.

Clinical engineers at UHS perform annual checks on more than 800 devices on board the fleet of 11 ships and have created an equipment bank at Southampton General Hospital which P&O Cruises and Cunard medics and staff can access at any time if they need to replace items while in dock.

They are also able to transfer pathology specimens from each vessel for testing in hospital laboratories, with full analysis of results and clinical advice available to on board medical teams anywhere in the world.

In addition, x-rays and scans are now sent directly to the radiology department where specialists complete diagnostic imaging reports and package up the results for distribution to hospitals anywhere in the world if a crew member or passenger is medically disembarked.

Further developments include expert antibiotic advice from consultant microbiologists and the creation of an intensive care training package for the two companies’ 30 doctors and 60 nurses, as well as a dedicated 24/7 helpline for clinical equipment enquiries and advice.

Dr Michael Marsh, medical director at UHS, who officially launched the partnership aboard P&O’s new 3,600-passenger ship Britannia, said: “This is a fascinating and innovative partnership which will set the standard for medical care on board cruise ships worldwide.

“We are all extremely pleased that the wide range of services and expertise we have based in our hospitals will help P&O Cruises and Cunard provide the highest quality facilities and care for passengers and crew.”

Dr Kate Bunyan, medical director at P&O Cruises and Cunard, said: “We are always striving to provide the very best care to our passengers and crew while they are at sea and our partnership with UHS is a great example of this.”

Sarah Shahid, commercial business development manager at UHS, added: “This is a unique partnership which brings a hospital trust and the cruise industry together to provide important services and expertise for the first time.

"The project is already well established and we look forward to introducing further innovations, such as our intensive care training package, over the coming weeks and months.”

Posted on Monday 1 June 2015