Tucked away in an unassuming annexe at the back of the John Radcliffe Hospital you will find a powerhouse at the centre of training NHS staff on the COVID-19 front line. This is OxSTaR (Oxford Simulation, Teaching and Research), the University of Oxford’s state-of-the-art medical simulation, teaching and research facility. This unit, led by Dr Helen Higham, is part of the Nuffield Division of Anaesthetics in the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences. It embodies the incredible impact that can be achieved when robust research meets clinical practice — and never more so than in a global crisis such as the one in which we now find ourselves.
For 12 years, OxSTaR has been running simulated scenarios — complete with highly realistic functioning models of patients known as manikins — to understand and improve how healthcare professionals work together and interact with their environment and equipment. They have used the insights gained to provide training across Oxford University Hospitals (OUH). Recent weeks have seen them rise to the unique challenge of supporting front-line clinical staff during a pandemic. Helen is full of praise for everyone involved in this effort, particularly the members of her core team: Rosie Warren, Alan Inglis, Russ Sinclair, Charlie McDermott, Wendy Washbourn and Paul Hambidge. This outstanding example of the University and OUH working in partnership has also hinged on the enthusiastic engagement of OxSTaR’s faculty (largely anaesthetics and intensive care consultants and trainees), and support from OUH Infection Prevention and Control team, Corporate Education, the Chief Medical and Nursing Officers and Oxford Medical Imaging.