More than 10,000* patients, volunteers and NHS staff have taken part in Covid-19 research at the Northern Care Alliance NHS Group (NCA).
Their support is crucial to the urgent public health studies which are improving care, identifying treatments and developing vaccines and other prevention measures.
The NCA, which brings together Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust and The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust and provides services for over 1 million people, is concentrating on delivering these highest priority studies which have a crucial role in understanding more about Covid-19, how to tackle it and the longer-term impact this pandemic will have on communities and the NHS.
Most of the 10,000 people involved are taking part in studies in hospital – including Salford Royal, The Royal Oldham, Fairfield General in Bury and North Manchester General# – but nearly 600 healthy volunteers are involved in vaccine and antibody studies in the community.
The NCA’s Director of Research, Professor Phil Kalra, said: “We very much appreciate the support of our patients and their families and our volunteers at such a difficult time and want to thank them for the help they are giving to health staff and scientists who are treating Covid-19 patients and trying to protect our communities.
“We are focusing our efforts on national high priority studies for the benefit of our patients, including the RECOVERY study, which has been identified by the UK’s Chief Medical Officers as being of crucial importance. 600 of our patients are taking part in this study, which is assessing the effectiveness of potential treatments which are already in use for other conditions. It has already found that a steroid called dexamethasone can improve survival in seriously ill patients with Covid-19.
“Through this and the other local, national and international research efforts, we already have much better information about how to treat coronavirus and therefore potentially save thousands of lives.
“We also recognise the vital importance of preventing infection and it has been heart-warming to have so many people come forward from our communities to take part in studies into potential vaccines and antibody treatments.”
Vikki O’Loughlin, Assistant Director of Nursing for Research & Innovation at the NCA, said: “The expertise of NHS staff is making a difference every day and our research teams are proud to be a key part of that. We have had fantastic support from our patients, staff and volunteers, without whom research could not take place. We would all like to say a huge thank you to everyone who is giving us hope for the future.”
Professor Andy Ustianowski, National Clinical Lead for the NIHR Covid Vaccine Research Programme and Principal Research Lead at North Manchester General Hospital, said: “Over the past year we have come a long way in our understanding of Covid-19. Although we now have effective treatments and good vaccines, there is still much to do. The UK has been world-leading in its research into this disease, and the NCA has played a significant part in this effort. This is such an achievement and there are many people who have contributed – from patients and members of the public, to general hospital and community health staff, to our dedicated research teams.”
* A small number of participants are involved in more than one study, for instance where observational data are being collected for different studies.
# North Manchester General Hospital is run by Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust under a management agreement.