F1 tech protects staff treating Oxfordshire's COVID-19 patients

New plastic shields have been approved for use at the JR, and three other local sites.

The 'Oxford Box' has been developed by Formula One motor racing engineers.

As well as improving the treatment of coronavirus patients, the aim is to boost the safety of clinical staff during the pandemic.

The light, flat-pack devices are collapsible and can be made in large numbers from recycled plastics.

The innovative technology has been developed by businesses in the Silverstone Technology Cluster network.

Weighing just 7kg, the device can be swiftly re-allocated in an emergency, stored away easily and sterilised more effectively.

It's been approved for use by Oxford University Hospitals at the John Radcliffe, Churchill and Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre in Oxford, and the Horton General Hospital in Banbury.

Bianca Tingle, a Consultant Anaesthetist at OUH, said: "We believe the Oxford Box is the best aerosol shield available. We predict it will be used beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It is unique because it is completely collapsible, easy to stow away - space is a precious commodity in hospitals - and is much easier to clean than other similar devices being developed, which helps enormously with infection control. These were the key features we were looking for.

"It adds a vital layer of protection for clinical staff. Removal of PPE ('doffing') is the riskiest moment for us, but keeping aerosols inside the Oxford Box greatly reduces contamination of us and the surrounding area."

The Renault DP World Formula 1 Team and the University of Oxford's Oxford Simulation, Teaching & Research centre have also been involved in developing the tech.

Renault DP World F1 Team's Head of CFD, Paul Cusdin, said: "We modelled the speed, direction and air flow as we would in F1 and were thus able to advise the best placement, size and shape of the box to take its protection level to near 100% for the treating medic.

"The models were complex to establish, but by applying the principles we would do in developing a car, we were able to improve its protection and condense development from months to weeks.

"F1 is once again proving its capacity to apply its thinking, technology and processes in speeding up the help we can give to those in genuine need. I hope this will be yet another tool in the ongoing fight against COVID-19."

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