A respiratory physiotherapist at the Royal Free London has launched a new app to help physiotherapists develop skills needed when treating patients with COVID-19 (coronavirus).

Stephanie Mansell worked with colleague Iain Loughran from North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, both part of NHS England’s clinical entrepreneur training programme, to rapidly develop and launch ONCALLbuddy. The app gives physiotherapists access to training and resources to help them manage COVID-19 positive patients with confidence.

“We realised that we were getting lots of physiotherapists from other areas coming into respiratory care to support during the pandemic,” said Stephanie. “There are lots of educational materials out there, but we needed something that would be instantly available, there in your pocket ready to be used when needed.”

There was clearly as real need for ONCALLbuddy: in the two weeks since launch, the app has already been downloaded 8,000 times, with somebody logging in to use it every two minutes. Downloads have come from all over the globe, with physiotherapists making use of the app as far away as Canada and Australia.

Closer to home, Stephanie and her team will be receiving funding and online support from Health Education England to help them develop the app further. Stephanie hopes that this will allow them to build on their content, providing physiotherapists with a bank of knowledge that they can draw on when they’re helping their patients.

Beverley Harden, Allied Health Professions Lead for Health Education England, said that: “This excellent innovation is essential for the COVID-19 period and for the future delivery of acute respiratory physiotherapy. The timeliness of this useful resource is very valued by clinicians in service, and its further development will help provide optimal long-term support.”

“The sponsorship from HEE is amazing because it means that we can develop a lot more content than would have otherwise been possible,” Stephanie added.

“We also intend to keep the app running after the COVID-19 pandemic. Seeing how much the app has been able to support people during the current situation has been amazing but there is also going to be an ongoing need for this kind of training resource, which gives staff access to information on the go.”

To download the app, visit oncallbuddy.co.uk