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Research and Projects

Supporting the NHS through Operational Research

Theme: ARC - Methods for Research & Improvement
Status: Live

Supporting the NHS through Operational Research

Researchers from our Operational Research team, PenCHORD, have been working in partnership with colleagues at the University of Exeter to deliver rapid operational research projects for the NHS during the COVID-19 pandemic (see list below).

PenCHORD Director, Professor Martin Pitt, has also set up a National Covid-19 Operational Research group who meet at regular weekly intervals to help ensure a collaborative approach to operational research initiatives across the UK.

If you have a project suggestion or would like to be involved with the national group then please contact

Project status

Project Details


Modelling demand and capacity for NHS Trusts in the South West

A tool has been developed to support forecasting resource demand and staffing capacity for hospitals across the South West.

The forecasts have been used to help predict the demand for in-patient beds, intensive care, PPE, ventilators, oxygen and testing kits. They have also incorporated predicted hospital staffing requirements, including the levels of staff that may be off-duty due to illness and self-isolation.

Trusts who are interested in making use of the tool should contact in the first instance.


End of Life Care Resource Modelling

Developing a tool to model the End of Life Care resource requirements in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire


Dialysis Service Modelling in Portsmouth

Using geographic modelling and optimisation to identify how best to manage the dialysis population during the COVID-19 outbreak.


Using modelling to help manage, prioritise and schedule the backlog of elective / outpatient appointments 

Initially this work will begin looking at the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust Orthopaedics consultations, with plans to extend to other Trusts and specialities within the region.

Active Modelling the mental health incidence surge in Devon in the aftermath of COVID-19


Using intelligent sample pooling to increase the UK Covid-19 screening capacity

Work in PenCHORD has shown that an intelligent sample pooling strategy could likely increase routine surveillance COVID-19 screening capacity in the UK 10 fold compared with the current strategy. Though samples are pooled, this strategy requires little or no individual follow-on screening of individual samples.


Modelling to support Covid-19 screening ‘super-lab’

PenCHORD, through laboratory simulation, has supported planning and operation of the combined AZ/GSK/Cambridge University Covid-19 screening 'super-lab' hosted at the University of Cambridge.

Others Involved

Dr Tom Monks, University of Exeter Charlotte Chamberlain (NIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer in Palliative Medicine; ARC West, Dan Hill Equity Fellow; Accredited Consultant in Public Health), Bristol Medical School - Sara Robbins (Palliative Medicine Specialist Registrar), University Hospitals Bristol and Weston - Rohan Kandasamy (Specialty Doctor, Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit; HSMA Alumnus), University Hospitals Bristol and Weston - Kate Rush (Medical Director), Sirona Care and Health


Northern Devon Healthcare Trust (NDHT), the Royal Devon and Exeter Foundation Trust (RD&E) and Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust (RCHT)