Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital Reflects on a year involved in vital COVID research

2 April 2021

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The Team at NNUH running the Recovery Study

It has been a year since the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital began lifesaving Covid-19 research at the Trust when they joined the RECOVERY (Randomised Evaluation of Covid-19 Therapy) clinical trial.

The study is a large, randomised controlled trial of possible treatments for patients admitted to hospital with Covid-19.

So far, 210 NNUH patients have taken part in the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funded study, which has found that the steroid dexamethasone and anti-inflammatory drug tocilizumab are effective in improving survival rates for patients with severe Covid-19.

Dr Eleanor Mishra, Respiratory Consultant, said: “The RECOVERY trial has been a real team effort at NNUH: nurses, doctors, pharmacy and the clinical trials team have all done their bit to successfully recruit to this study – and of course the patients, who took part at time that they were also battling with severe illness. The results are critically important – not just to show what treatments work, but also what doesn’t. I’m delighted that we have been able to contribute to a study that has already saved hundreds of thousands of lives worldwide.”

Lisa Hudig, Clinical Research Nurse, added that the study had delivered “incredible positive outcomes” for patients, but also raised the profile of research in all levels of the hospital.

“Wards that were not research active pre-Covid are now actively engaging in research studies, and discussing possibilities with patients. This can only benefit everyone in the long run, with research becoming embedded in our everyday practice, pushing forward those boundaries and working with our patients to achieve levels of clinical knowledge we have not been able to access before.”

Gail Healey, from Highly Specialist Pharmacist Clinical Trials, added: “The speed at which the trial was set up was a new experience to all involved, but thanks to the staff in pharmacy, the research team and research and development we managed to open the trial in record time in very challenging circumstances, it really was a huge team effort. We are very proud in pharmacy to be part of such an important trial.”

Dr David Kelly, Associate PI for RECOVERY, added “I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to be involved in the RECOVERY trial this year. It has been very rewarding to be part of a trial of this size and scope especially having seen the significant real-world impact the trial has had in improving care for people suffering with severe Covid. The research and medical ward teams are very proactive and have supported our hospital in contributing to this study which continues to advance our knowledge of this disease and its treatments.”

Louise Coke, Senior Paediatric Research Sister, added: “We have been a research active hospital for many years, but Covid has highlighted to everyone the importance of teamwork and the part that we all can play. A year on and with low numbers of patients currently being treated in the hospital we are all thankful to have been part of such ground-breaking research. We have built new relationships, new collaborations and we continue to grow as a department fulfilling our dream to embed research into every patient pathway.”