Respiratory physios’ e-learning modules adopted across Scotland’s NHS

Health boards across Scotland have adopted online learning modules developed by respiratory physiotherapists.


Sarah Matthews: All our staff have to complete each module before they go onto the on-call rota

Sarah Matthews, physiotherapy team lead at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, part of NHS Tayside, helped develop the e-modules using resources produced by the Scottish physiotherapy in critical care practice development group.

The 15 interactive modules are designed to update band 5 physiotherapists with the latest clinical information about respiratory care. They cover arterial blood gasses, airway clearance techniques, manual hyperinflation, tracheostomy, ventilation and other topics.

The information, interactive tests and quizzes in each module can form part of physiotherapists’ continuous professional development (CPD). University lecturers can also access them for their own CPD.

Although they have been designed for the NHS in Scotland, they can be accessed by physiotherapists in other parts of the UK.

After lengthy testing, the modules went live in NHS Tayside at the start of 2017. Since then they have been adopted by Highland, Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Fife, Grampian and Lothian health boards.

Grant to develop online skills

Ms Matthews said the cost of developing the modules in-house was too expensive. But she made a successful application to the education and training body, NHS Education Scotland (NES), for a career fellowship grant to develop her knowledge of online education and online learning for physiotherapists.

‘The by-product was that these modules would be built and the digital arm of NES would host them free of charge,’ said Ms Matthews, who had no previous experience of software development.

‘NES gave me options about the type of software and we ended up using Articulate Storyline 2. Basically you can use it to build your module which can be hosted on any learning platform.’

Ms Matthews said that about 20 physiotherapists at Ninewells Hospital have used the modules.

‘It is up to each hospital how they use the modules, but how we use them is that all our staff have to complete each module before they go onto the on-call rota,’ she said.

‘There’s a quiz at the end – and a pass or a fail – and they have to provide the evidence that they have passed each module.’

Respiratory on call e-learning modules

The modules were designed for band 5/6 on-call staff to augment their clinical knowledge. They may be useful for other qualified staff, but should not be used for undergraduate learning, unless directed by a clinical educator.

Ms Matthews can be contacted by email at

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