People in North Cumbria with coronavirus symptoms are being asked to take part in trials to support ground-breaking research into the killer disease.
North Cumbria, which includes Keswick and the North Lakes in NHS terms, is one of the first areas in the UK to stage the research trials at local intensive care units (ICUs) and GP surgeries.
COVID-19 patients in ICUs at both the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and the West Cumberland Hospital at Whitehaven, along with those at some local doctors’ surgeries, can support the vital research by taking part in the health tests to further medics’ knowledge of the new virus.
The trials are being led by consultant anaesthetist Dr Tim Smith and consultant microbiologist Dr Clive Graham, with support from research staff at the North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust. Prof Dave Dagnan, the trust’s clinical director for research, said eligible COVID-19 patients would be asked to join the research “where possible.”
He added: “These trials are an important opportunity for people in north Cumbria to contribute to this critical research; trying to find answers that may ultimately help patients with COVID-19. The results will be essential in the future treatment of patients in our region, the UK and around the world.”
The NHS, through its National Institute for Health Research, has set up national clinical research trials across the UK covering three types of patients and possible respective treatments. The different trials involve hospital patients with confirmed COVID-19 and those who are critically-ill – and high-risk people at GP surgeries aged 50-64 with certain medical problems or over 65.
Prof Leon Jonker, the trust’s science and innovation manager, said: “This is a great opportunity for north Cumbria. We have been really quick off the mark to make this trial available for our region, thanks to ongoing collaboration between North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust and a number of GP surgeries.”
Seven GP surgeries in North Cumbria are inviting higher-risk older people to take part in the research trial, with more planning to take part in the next few weeks. None is in the North Lakes area yet.
Coronavirus symptoms include a high temperature/fever or a new continuous cough. Patients should continue to follow national NHS advice by contacting 111 for concerns about their health related to coronavirus or their own GP surgery (111 if out of hours) if they have other health concerns.