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Eastern NHS research network speeding up the fight to beat COVID-19

Eastern NHS research network speeding up the fight to beat COVID-19

There are currently no proven treatments for COVID-19, so it is vital we gather reliable evidence to improve our knowledge of the disease and identify effective treatments as soon as possible through clinical research. By working together, a unique network of research staff is helping to speed up the process of delivering research to find treatments for COVID-19 in NHS hospitals and GP practices in the region.

Since 2014, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has been developing a unique network of researchers within NHS organisations to help deliver clinical trials more efficiently. The NIHR’s Clinical Research Networks (CRN) are established in 15 regions across the country and its Eastern arm funds over 700 NHS employees, including nurses, doctors, and allied health professionals, who work within every NHS Trust and many GP practices across East Anglia. A core team of coordinators provide management and support to each NHS team from bases in Norwich and Cambridge.

This network has now been instrumental in ensuring vital research to identify treatments for COVID-19 can be delivered in our region’s NHS organisations as quickly and efficiently as possible. Since the situation with the coronavirus began, these Network research staff have been providing the essential links between those developing and funding the studies and those teams embedded in the NHS who can set up the research so that their patients with COVID-19 can take part.

Dr Helen Macdonald, who leads the CRN Eastern, said, “It is truly inspiring to see how our CRN Eastern network has united, hitting the ground running as part of the national drive to COVID 19 trials happening in the Eastern region. We truly hope the results of the prioritised studies will provide the answers we need. Without research, and without those who take part in it, we simply can’t identify the ways to treat patients with this diagnosis, so we are extremely grateful to all those involved.”

The NIHR is funding and supporting a growing number of COVID-19 studies taking place in the NHS. These include those testing existing and new medications to treat patients with COVID-19 related symptoms. The results of all studies prioritised by the UK Government and the NIHR are essential to the future treatment of UK and global patients.