NHS diabetes doctors train in VR

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Virtual reality (VR) is being used to train doctors delivering diabetes treatment in the NHS.

NHS England has partnered with VR training provider Oxford Medical Simulation to allow doctors to practice in VR medical emergencies, so that they can improve care for patients with diabetes in the real world.

Oxford Medical Simulation has provided VR headsets for the doctors participating in the pilot, which is being undertaken in South England. Novo Nordisk is funding development.

If the pilot proves successful, the programme could go nationwide later in 2019.

VR training for doctors is being considered in diabetes treatment because of the nature of the condition’s life-threatening consequences if left untreated.

NHS diabetes doctors train in VR
Credit: Oxford Medical Simulation

“You wouldn’t expect a pilot to fly a plane full of passengers without having practiced first. Why do we think that’s acceptable for doctors and nurses?”

Dr Jack Pottle, co-founder of Oxford Medical Simulation

“When I was in training, we’d learn on the wards. It was called ‘see one, do one, teach one’,” commented Dr Jack Pottle, co-founder of Oxford Medical Simulation. “I had never practiced managing a diabetic emergency until I had to do it in real life. You wouldn’t expect a pilot to fly a plane full of passengers without having practiced first. Why do we think that’s acceptable for doctors and nurses?”

Dr Partha Kar, clinical director of diabetes at NHS England, said: “Embracing technology is at the heart of the NHS Long Term Plan and training doctors using virtual reality is another example of modernising the NHS to help improve care for patients with diabetes.”

Margot James, the UK minister for digital and creative industries, added: “Oxford Medical Simulation is a great example of the ground-breaking digital companies that the UK is constantly producing, I was hugely impressed when I met the company and tried their technology earlier this year and it’s great that it will now provide training for doctors across the NHS as they treat patients with diabetes.”