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Project: FIReS: Fostering Innovative Resilient Healthcare Services

This project, funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering, aims to develop an international network of multi-disciplinary researchers, practitioners and innovators to share knowledge and experience, debate, and develop ideas and conceptual solutions to improve the resilience of healthcare services to major disasters.

The UN suggests that a disaster-prepared entity costs 15 times less than an unprepared one, yet the Covid-19 pandemic demonstrates how ineffective preparedness measures were, and that there is a global need for more resilient healthcare services.

The impact of vulnerable healthcare services has significant impact on societies could last for months and years. For example, during the pandemic in the UK, the number of patients waiting over 12 months reached 236 times the numbers in August 2019, demonstrating substantial weaknesses in disaster planning.

Healthcare resilience is often considered from independent viewpoints that can lead to fragmented and less comprehensive solutions. With so many moving parts, any disruption can cause a backlog of delays and issues to other patient services. The complexity of hospital systems and procedures along with a lack of communication between professionals working in siloes often exacerbates healthcare vulnerability.

Failure to collaborate effectively can, therefore, hinder the continuity of healthcare services. The development of a multi-disciplinary team will enhance communication and reduce fragmentation and help improve resilience.

So far, four international webinars and a workshop have been conducted to facilitate the interaction of the 120+ network members who come from 26 countries including, but not limited to, Australia, Canada, Qatar, Malaysia, UK and USA. The project has 16 international partners of reputable institutions in Italy, Qatar, Turkey, UK, and USA.

The network provides a platform for discussion and knowledge sharing to assist and support healthcare decision-makers in a way that will reduce risk of failure and restore progress made in increasing life expectancy, which the pandemic has reduced in many regions.

Webinars have been recorded and made available to the public to raise awareness of this important topic for the sustainable development of societies. The recordings can be accessed from the carousel above.

This project is particularly well aligned with the following UN Sustainable Goals (SDGs):