New global hub seeks to support surgeons during COVID-19 pandemic


Surgeons operating

Imperial researchers have launched a collaborative network to help the global surgical community improve frontline care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The platform, called PanSurg, aims to bring together clinicians, surgeons and academics globally to share experiences, policy, data and research for the delivery of safe, effective surgery during the current COVID-19 outbreak.

PanSurg is led by a group of Clinical Research Fellows and Clinical Lecturers based at the Institute of Global Health Innovation and the Department of Surgery of Cancer at Imperial. The team created the hub in response to the far-reaching effects coronavirus is having on healthcare systems all around the world.

“The pandemic is affecting healthcare systems globally. We believed it was important to find a way of sharing experiences and knowledge between surgeons and healthcare workers looking after surgical patients, in real-time,” said lead for the project and Clinical Senior Lecturer, Mr James Kinross

“For the surgical community, there’s been a lack of guidance and information disseminated on the ground about matters relating to our systems, including best practice on how to deliver safe surgical care during the pandemic, and dealing with the shortage of healthcare resources. We hope to address these issues with PanSurg,” he added.

“A valuable resource”

The team behind PanSurg aims for their platform to become a trusted resource for the surgical community. They want to offer a safe, open space where individuals can seek advice from other healthcare professionals who are currently tackling similar challenges in their own countries.

“We hope to achieve rapid sharing and dissemination of knowledge through international networks in a way that’s open and collaborative,” says Miss Seema Yalamanchili, a Clinical Research Fellow who is leading the webinars for the PanSurg working group. 

“Things are constantly changing on the ground due to the pandemic. We’re learning about protection for healthcare workers, the types of patients coming into hospital and the way this is impacting staff. 

“We’re reacting as quickly as we can, but we know there are healthcare workers who’ve experienced similar crises before. If we can leverage this knowledge together, we can consider our solutions to challenges more carefully,” she explained.

To enable rapid information exchange, PanSurg has ensured that all of its activities are virtual, encouraging conversations across the world. This includes hosting regular webinars, where members of the surgical community can interact with those working on the frontline in other parts of the world. 

Since launching last week, PanSurg has already delivered two webinars featuring surgeons and experts from Italy, who gave insights from their recent experience of providing surgical care during the pandemic. 

The platform’s other activities include a forum where healthcare workers can ask questions and share experiences, a repository for resources to support the community, and research projects looking to improve surgical care on the frontline. PanSurg recently launched the PREDICT project as a part of their research efforts. Here, the team are collecting data on the impact of COVID-19 on the UK’s surgical services. They hope this data can help inform decision making in surgical practice. 

Adapting how we collaborate

PanSurg also presents a solution to addressing information gaps that is unique compared to traditional methods of collaboration and research. “In this rapidly-changing situation, we can’t only depend on formal research. We have to work and think in a different way. We have to be proactive, highly adaptive and flexible. That’s something we can do, but we’ve never had to do on this scale before,” explains Miss Yalamanchili. 

Despite these challenges and ongoing uncertainty, the team is hopeful their platform can provide the impetus for how future research and collaboration takes place in such urgent settings.

“We don’t know what the future is going to hold,” said Miss Yalamanchili. “But we hope PanSurg highlights the role of keeping research agile and the benefits of facilitating discussions between frontline staff in such situations.”

PanSurg’s next webinar takes place this Friday at 9 am GMT and will focus on the Singapore experience of segregation in surgery during the pandemic. Sign up here.



Nikita Rathod

Nikita Rathod
Communications Division

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Surgery, Coronavirus
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