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Research on the Frontline, Primary Care

Research on the Frontline, Primary Care

This week, Lee Bullen, Senior Research Nurse in Primary Care at the Clinical Research Network, North West Coast tells us about Primary Care's tackle with the global pandemic, COVID-19. 

"Since April 2020 healthcare has changed in many ways. We have seen innovative ways in which teams have adapted to continue providing quality care for patients. General Practice is a prime example of how organisations have been turned on their head but continue to provide a high standard of care for their patients despite all the challenges COVID-19 has brought.

In terms of research, General Practice engagement has been fantastic across our North West Coast geography. The Clinical Research Network; North West Coast Primary Care team have been engaging with our brilliant ‘research regulars’ across the patch, but it has been a real heart-warming experience speaking with lots of General Practices who have never run research studies before who want to contribute to COVID research.

The feeling of wanting to do something pro-active in these challenging times really comes across when speaking with GP’s, Practice Managers, Practice Nurses, Healthcare Assistants and Admin support teams. One of the challenges we can encounter is finding relevant studies for sites to contribute to, and as we all know COVID is non-discriminatory and can affect anyone.

In Primary Care, we have mainly focused on the Urgent Public Health study - PRINCIPLE (Platform Randomised trial of INterventions against COVID-19 In older peoPLE). The PRINCIPLE study assesses whether existing drug treatments could prevent COVID-19 patients from needing hospitalisation. We have a range of health populations across our geography and we also have a good mix of research experienced sites contributing to the PRINCIPLE study. Some sites progressed from set up to recruiting 1st patients within 1 week with minimal support, others need a little more guidance from the team (which we are more than happy to provide), but they all have the drive & commitment to offer research to their patients. We have seen less research experienced sites acting creatively & innovatively, committing to the project of being research aware & active. Raising awareness and keeping the PRINCIPLE study ‘on the agenda’ will be key moving forward."

If you are a patient who’s interested in finding out more about getting involved in the PRINCIPLE trial , please click here. If you are a surgery, care home, or health trust and would like to find out more about getting involved in running the PRINCIPLE Trial please email

"Nurses from the Clinical Research Network Primary Care team have supported the Oxford Vaccine study running at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. It has been fantastic to see our health workers community volunteering for such an important study- and personally, it was good to see so many Primary Care staff volunteering. We know that it does not matter how many people you have working on delivering a study, without volunteers we will not get any answers to our important research questions.

Our aim is to ensure that as many patients as possible have the opportunity of participating in research if they want to, working with the Primary Care community is an important step in this process."

Lee Bullen has been working within clinical research for over 15 years, working in acute trusts, specialist units and Primary Care. A huge thank you Lee for taking the time from your extremely busy schedule to provide us with such an detailed insight to research on the frontline.