New online training tool launched to support critical care expansion as part of the NHS response to COVID-19

A new online training tool that can quickly teach doctors how to operate ventilators under the direction of an intensive care consultant has been launched to support the NHS response to COVID-19.

Global efforts are underway to provide the ventilators that the majority of intensive care patients need as part of their treatment. Critical care specialists are being supported by clinicians from other specialties to rapidly expand intensive care and ventilator capacity in hospitals across the NHS.

The new online tool, developed by Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, Imperial College London and Fundamental VR, allows these redeployed clinicians to gain the key knowledge they need for ventilating patients in 30 minutes. The training consists of a short how-to video that teaches the essentials of operating ventilators and has been translated in to 6 different languages for use around the world.

Clinicians can use the tool on their smartphone at home or in real-time as they care for patients, enabling them to begin running ventilators immediately under the supervision of an intensive care consultant. It can be accessed for free by any clinician across the world, regardless of health system or specialism.

Professor Julian Redhead, medical director at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “Our academic partners are helping us greatly with this online tool, which adds to a range of training we’ve had to put in place very quickly. The response to COVID-19 will really benefit from the continued collaboration of researchers, clinicians and industry to get innovations into practice and achieving patient benefit.”

Professor Ara Darzi, co-director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London, which is leading the project at Imperial, said: “It takes years to specialise a clinician in intensive care; while this new training course is not designed to replace this expertise, it will enable health systems across the world to act now and provide the care that their patients desperately need. With greater capacity, we can help more people survive this illness, and prevent health systems from becoming overwhelmed during this crisis.”

The resource is currently being rolled out across Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust with the hope of further roll out, both nationally and internationally, to support the global need to increase critical capacity in response to increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients.