A team of surgeons is fighting for life. The intensive care team is fighting for the life of the patient. 
Our group is dedicated to improving clinical outcomes in patients undergoing surgery (perioperative medicine) and critically ill patients admitted to an intensive care unit (intensive care medicine). 

Perioperative medicine

Surgery can result in unwanted complications that have a significant impact on patients’ lives. Many of these complications are preventable and the aim of perioperative medicine is to optimise care before, during and after surgery in order to give patients the best chance of successful recovery. Our research focuses on different elements of the surgical patient pathway with a particular focus on the preoperative period, where prehabilitation is being evaluated. We are also interested in cellular processes that may be responsible for harm after surgery.

Intensive care medicine

Severe illness that results from disease, trauma and surgery can result in organ failure and the need for organ support on an intensive care unit. Mortality and long-term morbidity is high in these patients and our research aims to tackle this. Our group has a particular interest in how oxygen levels effect clinical outcomes and how cells can adapt to the stress caused by critical illness.

University of Plymouth researchers

Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust researchers

Our Projects

Evaluating the clinical and cost-effectiveness of a conservative approach to oxygen therapy for invasively ventilated adults in intensive care (UK-ROX)

Around 184,000 critically ill adults are admitted to intensive care units (ICUs) each year in the UK, over 30% of whom will require help from a ventilator, often in combination with additional oxygen. However, we do not know how much oxygen to give to patients in order to optimise their recovery.

This project, which will involve a large-scale clinical trial of 16,500 adults, aims to find out whether keeping oxygen saturations at lower levels (conservative oxygen therapy) is better than the higher level currently being used in the NHS. The results will have a large and immediate impact on clinical practice and on outcomes for critically ill patients throughout the NHS.

A study within a trial to determine the effect of skin tone on the diagnostic accuracy of pulse oximeters.

An increasing number of studies have shown that pulse oximeters – which are used throughout the world to measure the level of oxygen in a patient – may over-estimate the true oxygen level in patients with darker (pigmented) skin. This in turn could under-estimate the severity of a patient's illness, leading to them receiving inadequate treatment and come to unnecessary harm.

With the support of the Centre for Ethnic Health Research in Leicester, this project aims to determine whether skin tone affects the accuracy of pulse oximeters and confirm whether they over-estimate the level of oxygen in people with darker skin.
Funder: National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR)
Award: £586,200.36
Chief Investigator: Professor Daniel Martin

Home-based EXercise and motivAtional programme before and after Liver Transplantation: ExaLT trial

Liver disease is the third commonest cause of death in adults of working age and liver transplantation (LT) remains the only cure for liver failure. We know that physical frailty prior to surgery results in a longer hospital stay because of postoperative complications and contributes to one in ten patients either dying whilst still on the waiting list or shortly after LT. Exercise may have the potential to improve the lives of people with liver disease and reduce the side-effects of LT surgery in the same way it is used in other fields of elective surgery (e.g. cancer) but LT patients have often been viewed as ‘too sick’ or ‘too frail’ to exercise and there is virtually no data to support the benefits and safety of exercise in this cohort.

This project, led by Professor Matthew Armstrong from the University of Birmingham and involving the University of Plymouth’s Professor Daniel Martin , aims to determine the effect of a home-based exercise and motivation-support programme in patients undergoing LT on their quality of life after surgery.
Funder: National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR)
Award: £1,293,103.50
Chief Investigator: Professor Matthew Armstrong


Plymouth Institute of Health and Care Research

The Plymouth Institute of Health and Care Research (PIHR) is a thriving community that conducts adventurous world-leading research with the explicit purpose of improving the health and care of the populations we serve. 
Our work is grounded in the needs of the people of the South West and other rural, coastal, and deprived communities worldwide, but PIHR’s research has national and international reach and impact. 
Find out more about the work of PIHR
People walking and talking in a modern setting.