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Monday, 30 March 2020 21:20

UCL, UCLH and Formula One Develop Life-Saving Breathing Aids for the UK's NHS

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A breathing aid that can help keep Covid-19 patients out of intensive care, adapted by mechanical engineers at UCL and clinicians at UCLH working with Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (Mercedes-AMG HPP), has been approved for use in the United Kingdom's NHS.

The breathing aid, known as Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), has been used extensively in hospitals in Italy and China to help Covid-19 patients with serious lung infections to breathe more easily, when oxygen alone is insufficient.

 

Since March 18, engineers at UCL and HPP and clinicians at UCLH have been working round the clock at UCL's engineering hub, MechSpace, to reverse engineer a device that can be produced rapidly by the thousands. This has now been recommended for use by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA.)

 

This breathing aid was produced within a rapid timeframe---it took fewer than 100 hours from the initial meeting to production of the first device. One hundred devices are to be delivered to UCLH for clinical trials, with rapid roll-out to hospitals around the United Kingdom ahead of the predicted surge in Covid-19 hospital admissions.

 

The collaboration, supported by the National Institute for Health Research UCLH Biomedical Research Centre, demonstrates the way that universities, the NHS and industry are coming together to help the national response to the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak, by providing vital technologies to the NHS which can enable them to care for patients who require respiratory support.

 

Reports from Italy indicate that approximately 50% of patients given CPAP have avoided the need for invasive mechanical ventilation. However, such devices are in short supply in UK hospitals.

 

"These devices will help to save lives by ensuring that ventilators, a limited resource, are used only for the most severely ill," said UCLH critical care consultant Professor Mervyn Singer, UCL Medicine.

 

"While they will be tested at UCLH first, we hope they will make a real difference to hospitals across the UK by reducing demand on intensive care staff and beds, as well as helping patients recover without the need for more invasive ventilation."

 

"At UCL, we have an established ecosystem of partnerships spanning engineers, healthcare and industry ready to be mobilised in times of need," said Professor Rebecca Shipley, director of UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering. "It's been a privilege to work closely with our clinical colleagues and with doctors leading the Covid-19 response in China and Italy. This close contact has helped us to define the need and respond with technology that we hope will support the NHS in the weeks and months to come."


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