Predicting critical care needs during a pandemic

Anderson, Gillian and Sneddon, Frances (2020) Predicting critical care needs during a pandemic. Impact, 2020 (2). pp. 7-10. ISSN 2058-802X (

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NHS Lanarkshire is the third largest Health Board in Scotland, serving a population of 655,000 across rural and urban communities in Lanarkshire. Its 12,000-strong team of staff work in communities, health centres, clinics and offices in the region and at three district general hospitals. When COVID-19 emerged, it posed huge questions for healthcare organisations globally. How much capacity would be needed to care for those who became infected? Would there be enough ventilators and other equipment to care for patients appropriately? And so much more. At NHS Lanarkshire, advice from both UK and Scottish governments had suggested that the major NHS Trusts (in England and Wales) and Health Boards (in Scotland) prepare for the worst-case scenario of a fivefold increase in demand for critical care in the Spring 2020 peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. This left NHS Lanarkshire with the challenge of trying to predict, at very short notice, the critical care resources they would actually require over the coming weeks and months. Time was of the essence for decision making and preparations required for the potential demand surges. Working in close collaboration with NHS Lanarkshire, the University of Strathclyde Business School health systems experts used Simul8 modelling software to predict critical care needs at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.