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Simulation and immersive technologies

The HEE National Strategic Vision for simulation and immersive technologies in health and care explores how high-quality simulation-based programmes can be applied to help address system-wide challenges being faced within the health and care sector.

It includes workforce development and transformation, new ways of working that arise from integration of technologies and changes in approach to service delivery and enhancing patient safety. A series of case studies are being curated to provide illustrations of how simulation has been used successfully to address issues in these different areas. These will be published alongside the strategic vision and made available below and on the Learning Hub.  Alongside this document is a description of simulation-based techniques relevant to education and practice in health and care. This document gives clarity on definitions and descriptions of simulation and immersive technologies, which we hope will enable consistency and cohesion.

An operational plan, proposing ways in which these discussions can become reality by utilising the wide array of opportunities that are available through TEL (for example, the Learning Hub, e-Learning for Healthcare, etc.) is in preparation. This will respond to the wider needs of the health and care system at local, regional and national levels.

The HEE National Framework for Simulation-Based Education (SBE), published in 2018, describes the vision and expectations for a national approach to the design and delivery of high-quality, effective SBE across England. The framework outlines five guiding principles to help align a needs-led and outcomes-driven approach to SBE that fits within the remit of HEE and which can be applied to the full spectrum of simulation and immersive learning technologies that are available.

A suite of short videos has been produced to help raise awareness of different simulation modalities. 

IMPORTANT: COVID-19 and future design and delivery of training using simulation and immersive technologies


Key lessons from the initial response of the UK simulation community to the COVID-19 pandemic

HEE TEL commissioned a brief study to reflect on how the simulation community supported the NHS response to the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Key lessons are highlighted in relation to strategic and operational mobilisation of expertise and resource to meet local and regional needs. This response was acknowledged as rapid and agile, addressing immediate workforce reskilling requirements and ‘stress testing’ the design of new environments and ways of working. Recommendations for future practice are made, recognising the benefit of enhancing future co-ordination and collaboration across organisational and geographical boundaries that exist in health and care.

HEE TEL has developed some important guidance regarding the implications of COVID-19 for SBE. A document describing practical tools and techniques to ensure appropriate risk management for learners, educators and support staff is now also available. It includes good/best practice exemplars nationally to help maintain the provision of SBE in a safe manner, and suggests adopting more blended approaches to remote and face-to-face learning – exploring the use of the Learning Hub as a repository for sharing resources.

Specialty Training Gaps project

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly interrupted or hindered postgraduate specialty training for many trainees. Working closely with the HEE postgraduate deans, heads of specialty schools, the royal colleges, trainee groups and national programmes, this project aims to provide rapid access to simulation and technology-based resources to help address specific training gaps and support broader recovery plans where feasible. Lessons learnt from specific interventions will have relevance for wider workforce development and transformation plans in relation to the NHS People Plan 2020/21.  

Several important pieces of guidance that can be utilised to support this ongoing work are now available. ‘How to Develop a VR360 Film’ – a comprehensive tool which highlights suitable equipment, and provides extensive advice on production, for learners who are developing their own simulation and immersive technology capabilities. Part 2, which focuses on post-production, is in development. 

HEE TEL has committed to provide a national, multi-professional, faculty development programme for the simulation and immersive learning technology community. This is particularly relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic when so many faculty members are being recalled to clinical duties. This online programme will be modelled on the successful Australian NHET-Sim programme. Faculty Development Guidance supports this work and has been modelled on the guiding principle within the simulation-based education framework.    


Evaluation and evidence of the benefit of simulation

To support the effective translation of the guiding principles described in the framework into current and future applications of simulation in health and care, HEE TEL has undertaken a review of immersive technology in the healthcare environment. An evaluation framework and toolkit will follow shortly. This can be applied to help develop and strengthen the evidence base for this overarching programme of work. 

In addition, opportunities for wider engagement with industry are being investigated, with future plans to develop a cohesive immersive technology strategy and policy that will enable delivery of learning that is fully embedded in current thinking. 

For further information

Many of the documents and resources mentioned above will be available on this page as well as on the Learning Hub. This platform, explained in more detail on the Learning Hub website, is where many existing and future resources will be accessed.

For more detailed information on specific aspects of the HEE TEL Simulation Programme, please email tel@hee.nhs.uk.