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Progress On The Pandemic

Since March 2020, Wessex Academic Health Science Network (WAHSN) has seen a rapid uptake of innovation and transformation across a wide range of services, brought about by a necessity to change at pace to focus on the care of Covid-19 patients. From supporting GP practices and care homes to use video calling technology, to the implementation of electronic repeat medicine dispensing, through to the approval of new PPE equipment, it has quickly realigned resources, staff, and expertise to support the response to the pandemic.

One example of the many projects WAHSN has provided support and expertise to is Covid Oximetry @home, which remotely monitors those patients diagnosed with, or suspected of having, Covid-19, in both primary and secondary care settings.

The AHSNs were directly commissioned by NHS England and Improvement (NHS E&I) to work with their partners – notably their respective ICS leadership, primary care, key clinical leaders, and others – to roll out the Covid Oximetry @home and Covid Virtual Ward programmes.

As of March 2021, around 16,000 patients have benefitted from the service which provides patients with a pulse oximeter to record their oxygen saturation stats. Should saturation levels drop beneath 95%, patients are urgently contacted and sometimes admitted to hospital to avoid the patient suffering from ‘silent hypoxia.’

The implementation of the Covid Virtual Ward, which facilitates safe, early discharge from hospital for Covid-19 patients along with their treatment package started in hospital, followed on from this programme.

Another example is the rapid development of a Personal Respirator Hood (PeRSo), where WAHSN worked in partnership with the University of Southampton and University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust. The AHSN took an active role in accelerating progress for the cross-organisational project team by engaging expertise on the pathway to regulatory approval and appropriate CE mark.

To date, 3,500 PeRSo 3 units have been manufactured locally for use at University Hospital Southampton. A further 15,000 units have been sold nationally to 30 NHS trusts. The co-designers were awarded the Royal Academy of Engineering President’s Special Award and MBEs in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for this work.

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