Award for UCLH and UCL team behind life-saving breathing device

The UCLH and UCL team supported by the BRC behind a life-saving breathing device for Covid-19 patients have won the 2020 Health Service Journal (HSJ) Award for Acute Innovation of the Year.

The HSJ Awards – now in their 40th year – celebrate the best teams and people in the NHS and the wider health sector.

The UCL-Ventura team of UCLH critical care consultants and UCL engineers, and in partnership with Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains, led efforts at the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to rapidly develop the UCL Ventura CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device, which helps coronavirus patients breathe more easily and keep them out of intensive care.

Clinical data from UCLH shows that half of patients treated with CPAP do not progress to ventilation, making this device a lifesaver. Clinical practice across the country has now changed with much greater use of CPAP.

It took less than 100 hours from the first discussions in March 2020 to the first prototype being designed, manufactured and tested. The device is now helping patients with Covid-19 in 130 NHS hospitals and in 15 countries around the world.

Prof Mervyn Singer (UCLH Critical Care and UCL Medicine) said: “It’s great to receive this prestigious award, recognising not just the named team, but the amazing unseen work of literally thousands of people at breakneck speed. Our collaborations span UCL, UCLH and other hospitals, Mercedes-AMG HPP, the companies who made oxygen analysers from scratch, G-TEM who have distributed around the globe, regulators, legal experts, communications teams and many, many more suppliers, companies and others. “Without whom this would not have been possible” is a hackneyed term - but oh so true in this instance!”

Prof Rebecca Shipley (UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering) said: "We are particularly honoured to accept this award during a year in which the acute sector has risen to the many challenges of COVID-19 so commendably.”

Professor David Lomas (UCL Vice Provost Health) said: “This breakthrough has proved vital in helping our frontline NHS staff keep patients off ventilators. This award pays tribute to the work of so many individuals who worked round-the-clock to develop and deliver on this new device. It shows what can be done when universities, industry and hospitals join forces for the national good.”

The HSJ judges commented: “This organisation outlined an incredible mobilisation at pace through an inspiring network of people and organisations in developing a device that has had a global reach during the pandemic. The panel felt humbled and honoured to receive such a presentation from a truly inspiring group of people.”

The team is already a winner of the Royal Academy of Engineering President’s Special Award for Pandemic Services.

The full winning team: engineers Prof Tim Baker (UCL Mechanical Engineering), Prof Rebecca Shipley (Director, UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering) and clinicians Prof Mervyn Singer (UCL Medicine and UCLH Critical Care), Dr David Brealey (UCL Medicine and UCLH Critical Care) and Prof David Lomas (School of Life and Medical Sciences).

Read more

UCL News 16 March 2021 – CPAP breathing aid helping COVID-19 patients in over 15 countries

See all HSJ Awards 2020 winners and nominees:

Image credit: James Tye / UCL