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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/P023312/1
Title: Healthcare Environment Control, Optimisation and Infection Risk Assessment (HECOIRA)
Principal Investigator: Noakes, Professor C
Other Investigators:
King, Dr M Kemp, Professor AH Fletcher, Dr LA
Khan, Dr AI Sleigh, Dr PA
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Apex 4D Ltd Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust Monaghans
NHS Lanarkshire
Department: Civil Engineering
Organisation: University of Leeds
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 September 2017 Ends: 31 May 2022 Value (£): 1,025,622
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Building Ops & Management Environment & Health
Survey & Monitoring
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
06 Feb 2017 HIPs 2017 Panel Meeting Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Hospital buildings are critical for supporting effective patient treatment. There is strong evidence that the design of patient environments influences well-being and comfort, recovery rates and can both cause and control transmission of infections, particularly those with an airborne component. Recent surveillance in England estimates 6% patients a year contract an infection while in hospital, which with hospital admissions of 15.9 million, totals almost 1 million people. Around 20% of infections are thought to be directly related to the environment. Hospital buildings have not progressed at the same rate as medical advances and many clinicians are treating patients in sub-optimal conditions. In addition recent scrutiny of healthcare buildings has been dominated by a focus on their energy usage, and there is increasing concern that decisions are made on energy and cost efficiency grounds without proper understanding of the risk to patients. This is counter-productive; efficiency savings in buildings leads to increased risks and hence costs in clinical delivery. With the NHS commitment to reduce recurrent revenue costs in supporting reduction of the national £22bn funding shortfall, it is essential that buildings are considered holistically and that the influence on patient outcomes is properly factored in.

A major barrier to delivering good patient environments is having usable tools to assess risks and adapt the environment and operations in a responsive manner. Current tools for designing and operating healthcare buildings and selecting technology are good at modelling energy, but are very limited from a health and infection control perspective. Our previous research developed new methods for modelling hospital environments and their influence on infection risk. In this project we aim to build on these approaches to develop and test novel computational based tools to assess, monitor and control real patient environments in hospitals for infection control, comfort and well-being. We will develop and couple models of physical, environmental, microbial and human parameters together with environmental sensor data to build new tools to dynamically model hospital environments. These will focus on addressing challenges with existing wards which are often constrained by the current building design and in many cases are naturally ventilated via opening windows. We will build a system that links sensors with a real-time fluid dynamics simulation model to enable live monitoring of environmental conditions and allow predictions to be made for rapid adaption. This will inform and control aspects like window opening, heaters and additional cooling to optimise the patient environment for comfort and air quality parameters. Alongside this we will develop a quantitative pathogen exposure model that can enable comparison of the relative risk of air and surface transmission and likely effectiveness of different design and infection control strategies. This tool will support decision making and scenario testing, as well as provide a valuable interactive training tool to demonstrate the interactions between pathogens, people and the physical environment.

The project has significant interaction with clinicians who manage complex ward environments and a wide range of patients, and expertise in industry in the design, specification and operation of hospitals. We will develop and test our approaches on real wards to understand their challenges, measure variability in conditions and evaluate how and where our models can best be used to inform practice. By working closely with industry partners we will understand how our pilot tools can be deployed in design and estates management and where they may inform guidance and governance. The project will deliver new risk based ways of assessing healthcare environments that support decisions, training, design and future guidance.

Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.leeds.ac.uk