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COVID ICU training scheme nominated for HSJ Partnership Award

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A scheme to provide rapid Intensive Care Unit (ICU) training to non-ICU NHS staff at the height of the COVID pandemic has been shortlisted for a Regional Covid-19 Response Partnership Award at the Health Service Journal (HSJ) Partnership Awards 2021.

Run by Brunel University London in partnership with 33N, a company of NHS clinicians and data scientists, and NHS Health Education England, the programme – the COVID-19 intensive care remote learning course (CIRLC) – was designed within a week and piloted, evaluated and rolled out nationally within a month, successfully providing training to around 2,000 non-ICU staff, across 171 NHS organisations between March and July this year. 96% of respondents rated the course very or extremely useful. 

The winners of the HSJ Partnership Awards 2021 will be announced at a special ceremony in London in June.

“We adopted a blended learning methodology, including “live” tutorial sessions as well as virtual lectures,” said Dr Eve Corner, a Lecturer in Physiotherapy at Brunel who helped lead the project.

“This meant that participants could benefit from personal interactions with peers and expert tutors, even though we were able to train up to 200 people a day. Having that personal connection was hugely important in terms of building people’s confidence to work in ICU.” 

Dr Alexandra Monkhouse, Anaesthetic Registrar at UCL Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and a director of 33N, said: “One of the biggest problems initially was a lack of available trainers, with existing ICU shortages compounded by sick-leave and people having to self-isolate. Our online course gave ICU experts who were self-isolating the chance to stay involved and add value at a critical point in the pandemic. 115 working clinicians gave their time and talents as volunteer tutors, in addition to coping with new techniques in critical care.” 

Kirstie Baxter, Head of Workforce Transformation at NHS Health Education England (HEE), said:“HEE has been keen to play its part in rapid training of front line staff in response to the COVID pandemic. The team at 33N and Brunel University was able to repurpose their knowledge and use their transformational skills to develop a national multidisciplinary training programme to respond quickly to the up-skilling need, promoting confidence and competence in what was an unprecedented situation – an example of workforce agility at its best.” 

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