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King's community helps the fight against coronavirus

Those who work in health and research always provide a vital service but are in need more than ever in the current fight against COVID-19. Here at King’s, our community of nurses, midwives, academics, scientists, medics and researchers are focusing on supporting the country’s response to the pandemic and boosting NHS resources.

The nurse helping to train others and keep patients connected

Louise Rose is Professor of Critical Care Nursing in the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Palliative Care and a qualified intensive care nurse. She is pausing her academic work at King’s to support intensive care staff at St Thomas’, caring for patients and training junior Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurses and others  as they treat patients with COVID-19.

She is also working with the British Association of Critical Care Nurses and Critical Care Nurse Leads (CC3N) to develop resources for UK nurses to upskill them for ICU and mechanical ventilation. The resources have been developed rapidly and are easy to follow so that nurses with little time can learn quickly.

Louise is also working with Dr Joel Meyer, an ICU consultant at St Thomas’ and Michel Paquet, CEO of Aetonix, a Canadian company that have developed a secure online platform called Atouchaway. The platform enables secure communication between the ICU team and families, as well as virtual family visiting. This is especially helping those patients in critical care who haven’t seen their families since they were admitted to hospital. Testing will be at St Thomas’ and if successful, will be rolled out in UK and possibly Canada.

Headshot of Professor Loiuse Rose
The only way we are going to defeat this virus is by pooling all our resources together and sharing knowledge is a critical part of that. If my expertise can equip another nurse with the skills they need to care for someone in ICU then it is my responsibility to help them.– Louise Rose, Professor of Critical Care Nursing

Collaborating with the University of Oxford to develop prototype for new ventilators

As more people are diagnosed with COVID-19, a virus which causes breathing and respiratory problems, the need is for more ventilators is becoming ever more greater. To tackle this, an interdisciplinary team of engineers and medics from King’s and Oxford are building and testing prototypes that can be manufactured using university and SME workshops. The team, led by Dr Federico Formenti, Professors Sebastian Ourselin, Andrew Farmery, Mark Thompson Alfonso Castrejon-Pita and Robert Staruch, have been working to meet the required specifications for safe and reliable function.

Thinking beyond the current pandemic, we are also aiming to share the know-how and refinement of this relatively inexpensive approach with other countries.– Dr Federico Formenti, Senior Lecturer

They believe that with Government coordination and rapid competitive selection of the best design concept to go forward, universities, SMEs and large industry would be able to make and assemble these ventilators in their own hospital. This would allow local scaling according to demand, and reduce stress on the NHS.

Supporting the NHS on testing

King’s Infection and Immunity biomedical scientists are currently exploring ways that they can support the NHS and Public Health England (PHE). This includes developing a COVID19 Diagnostic service capacity where a team can support on preparing samples from clinical swabs. They also plan to send staff to the Centre for Infections and Diagnostic Research to boost services there, working on novel diagnostic tests, point-of-care devices, as well as work on clinical samples from infected people. The team also in contact with Public Health England to see whether staff can also be deployed to work there.

Essentially the problem is this: NHS testing for COVID19 is severely limited and will become more and more so as the epidemic progresses. As biomedical scientists, this is something we can do to help make a difference and these measures could offer a much needed lifeline to the already stretched NHS.– Professor Stuart Neil, Head of Department, Infectious Diseases
Chemistry Lab


Given the scale of the national and global challenge of COVID-19, the NHS is facing unprecedented pressure on services. King’s has released all clinical academics from their current responsibilities should they wish to contribute to frontline care.  

In an email to staff, Professor Ian Everall, Executive Dean Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) and Professor Richard Trembath, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine said: ‘As a medical community, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to bolster the NHS frontline response’. Both Professor Everall and Professor Trembath have volunteered themselves.

Psychiatrists, clinical psychologists and other staff from the IoPPN Academic Psychiatry Division and Psychology & Systems Sciences Division will be providing support to help with staffing and oversight of the service for South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM).  Professor Dame Til Wykes Vice-Dean Psychology & Systems Sciences at IoPPN is helping Dr Alison Beck, Head of Psychology  to set up a supportive advice line for NHS staff. This is based on their previous work supporting staff in Sierra Leone during the Ebola epidemic.  Staff from the IoPPN’s Division of Neuroscience will be volunteering for King’s College Hospital in both clinical and lab roles.

In addition to staff support and research, IoPPN Senior Management are working to free up laboratory space for Covid-19 testing as well as providing an inventory of all the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machines on site, to amplify NHS resources and increase the number of tests that can be carried out. 

At this time we are all looking at ways to help NHS colleagues. As with so many of my clinical academic colleagues, I have expressed a desire to do whatever I can to support those delivering frontline services.– Professor Richard Trembath, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine

In this story

Federico  Formenti

Federico Formenti

Reader in Physiology

Stuart Neil

Stuart Neil

Head of Department, Infectious Diseases

Richard Trembath

Richard Trembath

Senior Vice President (Health & Life Sciences) and Executive Director of King’s Health Partners

Til Wykes

Til Wykes

Head of School for Mental Health & Psychological Sciences

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