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Suzannah Pegler: Recruiting to COVID-19 studies at Great Western Hospitals

Great Western Hospitals have recruited 5 patients to the REMAP-CAP trial and have consented 102 patients to the RECOVERY trial. 
Lead Research Practitioner, Suzannah Pegler, tells us how staff at Great Western Hospitals have so effectively prepared for and carried out these studies.
The RECOVERY trial and REMAP-CAP trial were set up in collaboration with all interested parties involved from the very beginning. This included the Respiratory team, ICU team, Pharmacy, Blood bank team and lead nurses on the COVID wards, as well as involving IT, the wider clinical research team, training team for administration of Tocilizumab and other redeployed Principle Invesitgators (PIs).
The PIs encouraged all the clinicians to do their training and placed responsibility on them for recruitment. We have a group of very enthusiastic people covering the wards designated for COVID-19, who have been redeployed from outpatient work. So far our highest recruitment has usually been at the weekends.
In order to effectively coordinate recruiting to these trials, we set up an email distribution list and a WhatsApp group, so everyone involved could stay in touch. We organised for the Microbiology department to send us daily reports of newly confirmed cases and their whereabouts, so that we could direct the medics for consent. We also arranged for our Communications team to put the trial information on the staff daily briefings and their social media channels, as well as myself and the PI using Twitter to our advantage.
On each COVID ward, we put up posters, set up visible recruitment packs with information on how to consent safely, and copies of the Patient Information Sheet and Informed Consent Form. We also displayed the available treatment options and randomisation worksheets, so that data for randomisation could be collected in one place and everyone could access details for the randomisation system and as well as the research team and pharmacy.
We have kept momentum by acknowledging milestones, giving regular updates and answering queries in a timely manner. The research team have coordinated the administration, kept track of patient journeys and completed the follow-up data, alongside collecting the data for other observational studies occurring at this time.
Our overall success has been down to the dedicated team work, hard work and flexibility of everyone involved, and a collective desire to contribute to this valuable research for the benefit of our patients and the science driving decisions regarding this pandemic.
It has been an honour to be part of Great Western Hospitals research effort and to observe how we pull together in times of crisis and need. I am proud of how we have demonstrated that we can fully integrate research into the clinical workings of the Trust at such a difficult time.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.