SPACE experts are helping to develop gadgets that could give an on-the-spot diagnosis to patients in rural areas.

Harwell’s government-funded Satellite Applications Catapult, an “incubator” that turns researchers’ findings into businesses, is assisting Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) in Inverness, Scotland, for the project.

The partners aim to create a mobile “Omnihub” tool, capable of carrying out ultrasound and X-ray scans, capturing video and sending the data back to staff in hospitals.

David Livingstone, of Catapult, said the scheme had the potential to benefit patients in lots of locations.

He said: “In a lot of places you just do not get things like broadband or even 3G at all.

“We want to bring technology that people expect in cities to remote locations that are harder to access.

“To begin with we are focusing on facilities which can help treat stroke victims on the ground because it’s a condition that affects a lot of people.”

The device could help with problems such as bed-blocking as well, he explained.

Mr Livingstone added: “The idea is to shift the crucial points of clinical decision-making from A&E to the people on the ground.

“That way, by the time the patients reach the hospital everything can already be prepared and ready to go.”

Scientists in Harwell will provide expertise through field trips and video conferencing to partners in an Iverness facility who will test the devices, he said.

A co-operation agreement was signed on Tuesday and testing has already begun.