We’ve created a new vibration-proof ‘metamaterial’ that could save premature babies’ lives


Fabrizio Scarpa, Professor of Smart Materials & Structures, University of Bristol

Andy Alderson
Professor of Smart Materials and Structures, Sheffield Hallam University

There are 16,000 transfers of premature babies to medical facilities each year in the UK alone. The babies are often transported over large distances from rural to city locations over significant periods of time, in some cases two hours or more. The ambulances, helicopters or aircraft used are miniaturised intensive care units, containing all the equipment required to keep the baby alive.

But mechanical vibrations and noise from the equipment and transfer vehicle can provide significant, even life-threatening stress to the most vulnerable and delicate human lives. As we discovered when speaking to clinicians, transfers are sometimes aborted as a result of the stress that develops in the baby. These vehicles need materials and structures to reduce the noise and vibrations to tolerable levels. Continue reading

Difficult to get a GP appointment? Barriers are even greater for people with autism

Dr Pauline Heslop, Norah Fry Research Centre, School for Policy Studies

Dr Pauline Heslop, Norah Fry Research Centre, School for Policy Studies

The challenges of providing a responsive GP service in the face of greater demand, a shortage of GPs and diminished available funding have been highlighted in the media over the past few months. Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, has advocated for the greater use of telephone consultations to improve access to GPs by patients, but a new report published in the Lancet this week suggests that this does not reduce pressure on practices or save money, and may indeed increase workload. Yet some patient groups face greater barriers than others in accessing GP services. In recognition of this, the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has now selected autism as a clinical priority from April 2014-March 2017. The work, to be led by Bristol GP Dr Carole Buckley, will aim to improve access to primary care for people with autism and their families, and to enhance their health outcomes.

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