Northumberland NHS trust researchers involved in nine projects during Covid-19 outbreak

Health researchers at Northumberland’s NHS trust carried out nine urgent studies during the coronavirus outbreak.

By Ben O'Connell
Friday, 24th July 2020, 6:41 pm
Updated Friday, 24th July 2020, 6:41 pm
The Northumbria Hospital at Cramlington.
The Northumbria Hospital at Cramlington.

This effort by staff from Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust included the randomised evaluation of Covid-19 therapy trial (RECOVERY), the largest control trial in the UK with more than 11,500 patients enrolled from 175 NHS hospitals.

A report to the Thursday, July 23, meeting of the trust’s board stated: ‘The trial demonstrated that in those admitted to hospital with Covid-19, dexamethasome significantly reduced the risk of death by one-fifth in those on oxygen and by one-third in those requiring invasive ventilation.’

Dr David Ripley, director of research and development, added that it also quickly showed that certain antiretroviral drugs were not effective in the treatment of patients with Covid-19.

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His update explained: ‘The United Kingdom, though the NIHR (National Institute for Health Research) Network, is in a unique position worldwide to deliver multi-centre studies at rapid pace.

‘This was demonstrated at the start of the global Covid-19 pandemic when the NIHR guidance was to prioritise the set-up and delivery of urgent public health studies (UPH).

‘Northumbria Healthcare R&D suspended set-up of trials into non-UPH studies and used the full department’s recourse to recruit to the UPH studies.

‘Northumbria Healthcare research nursing team offered a 24-hour, seven-day-per-week hot-line for randomisation into UPH studies.’

Away from the response to the recent outbreak, Dr Ripley reminded the meeting that hospitals with a strong record of clinical research have better patient outcomes, for example, the mortality rate is lower.

In 2019-20, there were 85 clinical research studies carried out by Northumbria Healthcare, while there was a 31% increase in the number of patients recruited compared to the previous year – 3,855 last year, up from 2,933 in 2017-18.

A survey of participants in these studies showed that the main reasons for volunteering were to help others, personal satisfaction for being involved in research, and being interested in the research itself.

In 2019, the trust’s researchers contributed to 76 peer-reviewed academic publications and in the last 18 months, there have been four appearances in the highest-rated, four-star publications, which are described as ‘world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour’.

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