The device can be attached to a ventilator to enable two Covid-19 patients to receive tailored respiratory support. (Image: Institute for Manufacturing/Royal Papworth Hospital)
The device can be attached to a ventilator to enable two Covid-19 patients to receive tailored respiratory support. (Image: Institute for Manufacturing/Royal Papworth Hospital)

Volunteers from the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM) at the University of Cambridge, have responded to a request from clinicians at Royal Papworth Hospital to develop a device that could be attached to a ventilator to enable two Covid-19 patients to receive tailored respiratory support.

The new device, which is being developed in collaboration with Cambridge Design Partnership, is still at the testing stage and is not yet approved for clinical use. It shows that it is possible to split the air flow from one ventilator to mechanically support the breathing of two sedated patients with different lung capacities and changing breathing needs. The system incorporates respiratory parts that are available in the UK supply chain.

Although ventilator demand in the UK has reduced, this system could be adapted to provide emergency support to hospitals in countries which are still facing significant challenges with the pandemic, or in countries that have ongoing ventilator capacity shortages.

The specification of the device was detailed by two anaesthetists from the Royal Papworth Hospital. Initial details are now available on the Institute for Manufacturing website.