Modelling the effect of first-wave COVID-19 on mental health services

B. J. Murch, J. A. Cooper, T. J. Hodgett, E. L. Gara, J. S. Walker, R. M. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (SciVal)


During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic it emerged that the nature and magnitude of demand for mental health services was changing. Considerable increases were expected to follow initial lulls as treatment was sought for new and existing conditions following relaxation of ‘lockdown’ measures. For this to be managed by the various services that constitute a mental health system, it would be necessary to complement such projections with assessments of capacity, in order to understand the propagation of demand and the value of any consequent mitigations. This paper provides an account of exploratory modelling undertaken within a major UK healthcare system during the first wave of the pandemic, when actionable insights were in short supply and decisions were made under much uncertainty. In understanding the impact on post-lockdown operational performance, the objective was to evaluate the efficacy of two considered interventions against a baseline ‘do nothing’ scenario. In doing so, a versatile and purpose-built discrete time simulation model was developed, calibrated and used by a multi-disciplinary project working group. The solution, representing a multi-node, multi-server queueing network with reneging, is implemented in open-source software and is freely and publicly available.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100311
JournalOperations Research for Health Care
Early online date19 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2021


  • Coronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Mental health
  • Queueing network
  • Simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oral Surgery
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Health Professions(all)
  • Management Science and Operations Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Modelling the effect of first-wave COVID-19 on mental health services'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this