GPs have been able to keep up with and respond to the latest clinical updates and resources on Coronavirus thanks to a partnership between the University of Reading and local firm Red Whale.

The company, which is based in the University’s Enterprise Centre, provides medical CPD (continuing professional development) for half of the UK’s GPs.

Access to Red Whale’s online learning portal is normally only available to members. However, as NHS frontline staff work under incredible pressure to care for those infected with the Coronavirus, Red Whale is providing free online resources and updates known as ‘Pearls’. As well as covering many other medical topics, Pearls deliver vital information and up-to-date procedural advice from Government on the virus enabling GPs to provide patients with the best care.

Martin Haley Chief Executive of Red Whale said: ”Just like for many small businesses, this is a very difficult time for us. Expanding the business to online training was incredibly timely. I am really pleased that our partnership with the University has meant we are in a position to be able to communicate the latest Government advice to GPs speedily and in an easily accessible, engaging format.”

Dr Blessing Mbipom, KTP Associate, said: “We organised a Remote Consulting Webinar specifically in support of the COVID-19 effort and the response we have had from GPs during the pandemic has been incredible. Our delegates appreciate how engaging and professional our online content is.“

Reacting to changing market trends in continuing professional development provision Red Whale needed to establish their training on digital platforms including webinars and online courses.

The collaboration between the University and the company established a knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) in 2018. This matched Red Whale’s needs with a KTP Associate, Dr Blessing Mbipom, and a team of experts including Prof Rachel McCrindle, Biomedical Engineering; Professor Richard Mitchell, Computer Science; and Dr Yota Dimitriadi, Institute of Education.

Professor McCrindle said: “We worked with Red Whale to address the challenges associated with moving from a traditional face-to-face approach to a more real-time, varied, convenient and flexible online approach to CPD. Blessing and the team at Red Whale have delivered an online learning infrastructure, while ensuring online training does not prove to be disruptive to the traditional face to face courses, but rather uses the online platform to enhance and extend current course provision.

Seeing how the project has contributed to Red Whale’s fantastic support for GPs during the Coronavirus pandemic has been hugely motivating and highlights the benefits of industry and University collaboration”.

The KTP scheme is a part government-funded programme to encourage collaboration between businesses and universities, linking business with an academic or research organisation and a graduate. At the University of Reading the project developed a digital learning offering that complements the existing face to face offerings and saw a doubling of engagement from attendees online.

Remote Consulting webinar feedback from GPs:

“Thank you! The free webinar and three months free handbook subscription extension felt like a big hug!”

“Thank you, this was excellent and timely (free) learning for working during the COVID-19 situation.”

“Great, thanks; really good to feel supported at this difficult time.”