NIHR Newcastle BRC’s response to national COVID-19 crisis
Scientists and clinicians working as part of the NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) share what they are doing in support of the unprecedented challenges during COVID-19
As part of the partnership between Newcastle Hospitals and Newcastle University, colleagues linked to the NIHR Newcastle BRC are well placed to respond through both vital research and patient care alike. With most research activity across the BRC portfolio being suspended, work and resources are being refocussed on COVID-19 to help support the huge efforts being made locally, nationally and internationally.
As the UK’s only Biomedical Research Centre dedicated to the study of ageing and long-term conditions, the Newcastle BRC has been working alongside partners to produce guidance on research needs, as well as ways to support the care of older people at this time.
Professor Avan Sayer, Director of the NIHR Newcastle BRC commented:
“At a time when the NHS is facing what is probably its greatest ever challenge, it is a testament to strong partnerships between Hospital Trusts and Universities that the effective integration of research and clinical care can quickly respond to provide both action and guidance, to support those working on the frontline of the crisis, as well as those in need”.
Some of the current activities involving Newcastle BRC-supported staff include:
- Development of a Newcastle COVID-19 Vulnerable Older People Plan. Professor Avan Sayer, NIHR Newcastle BRC Director, and Dr Steve Parry, Clinical Director of Older People’s Services with the Gateshead Clinical Commissioning Group, are mobilising efforts across the City in order to ensure vulnerable older adults in the community receive high quality clinical and social care needs. See more about this here
- Focus on public health research priorities related to COVID-19. Professor Miles Witham, Newcastle BRC’s Deputy Theme Lead for Ageing, has a key national role in shaping the research response to COVID-19. He is a member of the Urgent Public Health Prioritisation Committee, set up by the Chief Medical Officer to decide which research projects are most important to turn the tide of the pandemic. These selected projects are prioritised for NIHR and NHS resources to be delivered at speed across the UK.
- Clinical staff moving to front-line patient care. A wide range of BRC-supported clinicians, scientists and trainees across specialities including Geriatric Medicine, are part of many huge numbers nationally returning to clinical departments in order to help meet the huge demand on the NHS.
- Production of British Geriatrics Society guidelines on COVID-19 research. What does research now look like in response to COVID-19? How should researchers progress their work while acting responsibly and effectively in light of NHS guidelines on COVID-19? Professor Avan Sayer, Professor Miles Witham and Dr Richard Dodds from the Newcastle BRC contributed to BGS guidelines to answer these questions, and more.
- Creation of an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) database. On a national scale, ICUs are capturing immunological data for COVID-19 admission with a view to establishing an optimal care pathway for patients with multiple conditions. In Newcastle, Professor Matthew Collin led this initiative, while Trevor Liddle (Information Analyst, NIHR Newcastle BRC) and Dr Clare Lendrem (Statistical Methodologist, NIHR In-Vitro Diagnostics Co-operative), completed the database build.