Patient using CPAP ventilation system in intensive care

First UK patients take part in ventilation study for Covid-19

The first UK patients have started taking part in an important research study comparing the effectiveness of three new ventilation methods for Covid-19.

Fairfield General Hospital in Bury, part of the Northern Care Alliance NHS Group (NCA) in Greater Manchester, is the first hospital to open the study which includes the use of pioneering new ventilator machines created by industry which are now being used to treat the first patients in the UK.

The six patients are currently being treated at the hospital after delivery of 10 new UCL-Ventura CPAP devices that have been developed through a partnership between UCL and Mercedes AMG HPP.

The CPAP machines are being used in the RECOVERY-RS trial, led by the University of Warwick and Queen’s University Belfast, which will compare the effectiveness of three ventilation methods:

  • Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP): this treatment applies mild to high air and oxygen pressure on a continuous basis through a tightly fitted face mask. It keeps the airways continuously open and lungs recruited in people who are able to breathe normally on their own.
  • High flow nasal oxygen (HFNO): this is a way of giving humidified (moistened) and warmed oxygen through tubes into the nose. The oxygen is delivered very quickly to help patients who have low oxygen levels and find breathing on their own difficult.
  • Standard care: standard treatment will involve oxygen delivered via a normal face mask or tubes in the nose.

Data from the trial will be regularly reviewed so that any effective treatment can be identified quickly and made available to all patients.

Steve Taylor, Chief Officer for Fairfield General Hospital, said: “We are proud to be able to play a part in the essential research and development work that will be so vital in helping the Covid-19 effort, and we are committed to working together with our healthcare, academic and industry partners to ensure that we do everything we can to facilitate and support the fantastic work they are doing. Our staff continue to provide outstanding care to all of our patients, and will do so throughout the Covid-19 crisis and beyond.”

Salford Royal (part of the NCA) Critical Care Consultant Professor Paul Dark is one of the co-investigators for the study. He explained: “All these treatments are in common use within the NHS and this study is designed to find out which is best at keeping oxygen levels high enough and preventing a patient from needing more help with their breathing.  Patients who take part in this research and other Covid-19 studies are helping us to improve treatments both in this pandemic and possibly in future ones too and we are hugely grateful to them and their families for their support.”

Dr Jay Naisbitt

Dr Jay Naisbitt is the Principal Investigator for the study, working with other clinical staff and research nurses to recruit patients. He said: “Colleagues from all hospital sites within the NCA are working in partnership to provide the very best care to patients and to help answer the urgent public health questions we are facing. We are delighted that we were the first site to both open and recruit to this important study.”

The RECOVERY-RS trial is one of 10 Covid-19 studies currently being carried out across the NCA, with around 600 participants involved so far. Nearly 60 patients are taking part in another treatment study, the RECOVERY trial which is comparing standard care against four medications and has national priority status.

Director of Research and Innovation Operations at the NCA, Professor Steve Woby said: “It is crucial that we fully utilise our collective research expertise and capabilities to limit the spread of Covid-19, minimise the number of lives lost and reduce the impact of the outbreak on our communities.

“Our medical, clinical and research staff are united in their determination to do everything we can to provide the best care and treatment to our patients. Research has a key role to play and we are focussing our efforts on improving diagnosis and testing, finding new treatments, developing preventative measures and vaccines, understanding disease mechanisms, and supporting patients, staff and the wider community.”

Main picture courtesy of James Tye/UCL