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How we’re supporting our wonderful NHS

23 Apr 2020

nursing students

As many of you know, the university works very closely with the NHS all-year round and now, more than ever, we are using our specialist skills and equipment to support and help the NHS wherever we can. 

To give you an idea of how we are helping during the pandemic, here is a summary of some of the activity from the last few weeks:

  • We’ve identified all our personal protective equipment (PPE) and are working with the Lancashire Resilience Forum and the NHS Procurement group to make sure this gets to the places it is needed
  • Lecturers and technical colleagues from engineering have machine produced and 3D printed face shields, adapted CPAP mask valves, reverse-engineered intensive care patient monitoring wires and working with industry colleagues, adapted parts for diving masks to be used for patients. The teams are working closely with clinical colleagues in Blackpool Victoria Hospital, East Lancashire Hospital Trust, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, and even Salford Royal Hospital, as well as helping community-based centres in Lancashire and Cumbria, such as care homes, hospices and general medical practices
  • Researchers from the Biomaterials and Analytical Chemistry Group in the School of Physical Sciences and Computing have been working in our labs on campus to develop an antigen recognition rapid test that can be applied to SARS-COV-2 and COVID-19 detection. This work is in collaboration with the Pirbright Institute
  • We’ve offered our medical facilities at Burnley’s Victoria Mill to the NHS as a temporary care site
  • We’re in discussions with our School of Design and their alumni-led manufacturing network about how they can help produce much needed personal protective clothing
  • Our nursing and medical schools have supported 22 final year medical students and more than 300 final year nursing students to go to work in the NHS, after the Government and their regulatory bodies appealed for help. They will be doing a range of tasks, including assessing patients, taking blood, giving injections, and doing swabs for coronavirus tests
  • More than 100 students and staff are to provide vital support to front line NHS ambulance and emergency care centre services with paramedic students from the university working with North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) to provide assistance and urgent support for patients while UCLan academic staff specialising in Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and Operating Department Practice have begun to work within hospitals and urgent care centres across the region
  • Around 40 physiotherapy and occupational therapy final year students have joined the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) Emergency Temporary Register, so they may start work as qualified therapists immediately, having successfully completed all their pre-registration clinical competencies
  • Our Innovation Laboratory colleagues have had their NHS designed information platform adopted by NHSX to pilot a COVID-19 training platform for ‘returning to work’ NHS staff
  • University colleagues have taken part in the urgently assembled ethics committees for Lancashire Teaching Hospitals and East Lancashire Hospitals Trust
  • Our Professor of Global Ethics has provided a summary guidance document of best practice for clinicians facing difficult treatment triage decisions, within the hospital environment. It has been well received by the medical directors and the Trust Chairpersons.
  • We’ve provided research equipment to support the establishment of national diagnostic centres, collected recently by the Ministry of Defence
  • Researchers from the Faculty of Health and Wellbeing have already been recruited to help participate and run a collaborative North West study into the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable groups like dementia patients. In addition, colleagues from the Lancashire School of Business and Enterprise and School of Psychology are working with education partners to explore the challenges of ensuring effective ‘return to work’ protocols
  • Lecturers and colleagues from the Schools of Medicine and Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences have been advising industry colleagues on the challenging issue of effective surface sterilisation methodologies, in light of increasing cross-infection control demands
  • We have also been contacted about offering facilities and expertise for training current NHS staff and those returning after retirement to provide critical care support. If required, we will offer this service on all three campus sites in Preston, Burnley and Westlakes
  • Plans are underway for Sir Tom Finney Sports Centre to become a temporary patient recovery centre that can be activated if needed, and preparations have already begun.
This is probably just a small fraction of what we will do over the coming days and weeks, as conversations are being had every day with our contacts and partners in the NHS, Ministry of Defence and Emergency Services.

We are extremely proud of all our students, academics, researchers and colleagues and we hope this makes you feel proud to be a student at UCLan. These measures will be helping save lives and there can be no bigger or more important goal at the moment.

Thank you to every one of you who has been involved in any of these, or other initiatives to support our wonderful NHS and thank you again to all of you for being so accommodating and for adapting to a new way of working and studying during this unusual period.