People at a table having a discussion

Lessons learned from the impact of COVID-19 pandemic from an NHS R&D perspective

This workshop has been recorded. 

When the first news of the measures in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic broke in mid-March 2020 the senior management team at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board came together to form a plan of action. This was a new disease with little known about its short and long-term impact on patients and staff. This included:

  • Office organisation with remote working as the norm.
  • Suspending non-COVID-19 trials over 48-72 hours.
  • Working across 7/7 to cover the actions required quickly.
  • Set up of Urgent Public Health (UPH) COVID-19 trials as Newport was badly affected with many patients admitted.

We have learned lots about taking such a focused approach, including:

  • How valuable concentrating our delivery staff from a wide variety of clinical trial topic areas into one: COVID-19. Within 48 hours research nurses used to supporting mental health trials were working on Intensive Therapy Units (ITU) supporting those trials.
  • Our staff were completely committed to working in new ways and embraced a move into another clinical setting, learning new skills and taking a different type of responsibility.
  • How rapidly Health Research Authority (HRA) and permissions moved to enable COVID-19 trials to be set up in a few days.
  • Running the first COVID-19 vaccine trial in Wales on top of high recruitment into 15 UPH and non-UPH COVID-19 trials. This has been a challenging and hugely rewarding experience.

Moving forward we now need to keep the new ways of working as non-COVID-19 trials restart, are closing completely and new trials open in areas where patients need them. How COVID-19 research can be delivered alongside non-COVID-19 trials to ensure that patient needs are met is a question that we will explore at this workshop.