Skip to main content


HSMA Project Focus - The South West Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust

Posted on October 11th 2016

The Health Service Modelling Associates (HSMA) programme is a pilot scheme run by PenCLAHRC’s operational modelling group PenCHORD. It aims to bring academics from the universities of Exeter and Plymouth together with health organisations across the South West to carry out operational research to a high standard. The aim is to use the best tools and knowledge available to put the research undertaken rapidly into practice within the NHS.

Hannah Trebilcock, Clinical Audit Officer at the South West Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT), was selected as one of six HSMAs from NHS organisations across Devon, Cornwall and Somerset, and has been dedicating one day a week for the past six months to a trust-specific project.

Hannah said of the scheme:

“The HSMA programme has been a fantastic scheme to be a part of. I have attended training run by PenCHORD in the past and saw the potential simulation modelling has for informing decisions within the Trust. However, we have always struggled with time constraints to put the training into practice. Having dedicated time to work on my project and having the expertise of the PenCHORD team at hand has allowed me to show the Trust how useful this approach can be. In particular, decisions can be made that affect patients without having to pilot a programme with potential risks to patients. The Trust is already seeing the huge benefits that simulation modelling can bring to the organisation and are keen to use it for a number of other projects.”

Supporting Hannah on the project is her work place supervisor Sarah Black, Research and Audit Manager at SWASFT. Sarah’s role is to champion the work within the Trust to advance the project and support the implementation of its findings to improve practice.

Hannah and Sarah worked with the Clinical Development and Quality Improvement teams at SWASFT to choose the topic of the Trust’s project – the regionalisation of Cardiac Arrest Centres across the South West.

Currently, a patient suffering a cardiac arrest is attended by an ambulance crew following the 999 call. Paramedics treat the patient as far as possible on scene and then transfer them, under blue light conditions, to their nearest acute hospital with a cardiac centre.

The simulation modelling conducted as part of the HSMA project will help SWASFT to better understand the impact of moving towards a more centralised system, with fewer, but more specialised regional Cardiac Arrest Centres. The modelling aims to identify the impact of longer patient journey times and whether the survival rate for cardiac arrest patients would be improved at the specialised centres.

Hannah presented her initial findings to the SWASFT Clinical Effectiveness Group in September 2016 and meetings are planned with internal and external members to discuss the modelling simulation further.

The HSMA programme is looking to increase the impact of research by reaching out directly into NHS organisations, as well as providing the opportunity to promote the use of operational research more widely.

Kerry Pearn, Hannah’s PenCHORD mentor on the project said:

“The HSMA programme is a very exciting initiative. Empowering individuals working within the NHS with simulation modelling skills enables them to model their own systems and to inform their decision making. We are extremely fortunate to have recruited highly capable individuals who are passionate about solving their work-related problems, and the enthusiasm which they bring to their projects is the driving force behind the current success of the programme. What’s great is that the learning is a two-way process, we are particularly benefitting from the in depth systems knowledge held by each HSMA”.

Hannah talks more about her experiences of operational modelling in the video above. 

This entry was posted in Training and tagged HSMA, PenCHORD, SWASFT. Bookmark this permalink.