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Strategy Unit releases opensource model for planning vaccine centre capacity


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Thursday, 11 February 2021

Strategy Unit releases opensource model for planning vaccine centre capacity

This week's blog is from The Strategy Unit who are sharing an opensource model to help with vaccine centre capacity planning.

Strategy Unit releases opensource model for planning vaccine centre capacity

The UK is running its largest ever vaccination programme. The stakes are enormous. Ending lockdown, reopening schools and large parts of the economy, allowing social contact: so much depends on the NHS’ ability to deliver. The stakes are enormous, but so too is the logistical challenge. Tens of millions of people will be offered the vaccine in the coming weeks and months. Tiny improvements in a process of this scale will lead to massive gains. Reducing queuing; easing the flow of (socially distanced) people; ensuring a good experience for vulnerable people; making best use of available staff time and facilities to maximum effect. These are gains worth pursuing.

So local clinics have important decisions to make. They must configure themselves to maximise the number of vaccinations delivered with the resources available to them. This can be done in practice – through trial, error, experiment and learning. But it can also be done in theory: using modelling to experiment with different configurations and seeing where bottlenecks and problems are likely to result. And using modelling is faster and cheaper way of spotting problems than waiting for them to occur in practice.

From local intelligence to national application: working with Wolverhampton

The Strategy Unit wanted to make a contribution to these efforts. So we were delighted to be able to work with the Wolverhampton Prevention and Population Health Unit team to aid in their advice on planning vaccine centres in Wolverhampton. This team wanted to model the best ways of planning the use of carpark capacity, managing queue lengths for socially distanced queuing, flows of patients between stages in the process, and – critically - maximise the number of people who could receive the vaccine on a given day, whilst minimising the queuing time of vulnerable patients.

The team at Wolverhampton have been participating in a development programme led by The Strategy Unit and funded by the Health Foundation to use discrete event simulation in a primary care setting.

In the light of the pandemic the Wolverhampton team put their new skills to work. Working with us, they rapidly developed a local model, which has been used to guide vaccine centre set up. Seeing a broader need, the Strategy Unit has developed this local model into one with more general applicability. Vaccine clinics across the country could benefit from its use.

There is no pretence on our part that this is ‘the final word’ or even the most refined model it could possibly be. We have got the ball rolling. Our opensource model is the start of a conversation for those who want to look vaccine centre capacity and patient throughput for local areas. It can now be taken on and developed by analysts and people planning and running clinics.

To access the model, see the website.