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NIHR announces £5.5m for research into managing COVID-19

14th December 2020 about a 4 minute read

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has announced funding for nine new research projects looking at the management of current and future waves of COVID-19.

The programme has been rolled out rapidly due to the urgent situation. Projects range from digital devices to improve track and trace in care homes to remote rehabilitation regimes for patients with Long-COVID.

Another study looks at tools and support systems to boost staff wellbeing and performance during further stages of the pandemic.

Professor Chris Whitty, NIHR co-Lead and Chief Medical Officer, commented: “Building on research NIHR led in the early stages of the pandemic, we want to generate high quality evidence to improve this pandemic response and future responses – drawing on the experiences of patients and those working on the frontline in health and social care.”

Lord Bethell, Minister for Innovation, added: “COVID-19 is an awful disease and we are determined to beat it. That’s why I am so excited that NIHR is investing a further £5.5m to unlock the mysteries of this dreadful contagion.”

The funding is part of the NIHR’s Recovery and Learning call announced in June. It includes funding from the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Programme, the Health Services and Delivery Research (HS&DR) Programme and the Evidence Synthesis Programme (ESP).

The nine projects are:

The REGAIN project (Rehabilitation Exercise and psycholoGical support After COVID-19 InfectioN)

Award: £1,191,977

The study will look at people struggling to recover from COVID-19. It is based at University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire NHS Trust.

Researchers will assess the effectiveness of an eight-week programme offering online, home-based physical and mental health support to see if this can help patients (while taking additional pressure off the NHS.)

Work-related stress: the Impact of COVID-19 on Critical Care and Redeployed Nurses

Award:  £184,567

This project, run by researchers at the University of Aberdeen, aims to better understand stress in nurses working in critical care during the pandemic

It will focus on new demands faced by critical care nurses, including the high acuity and associated mortality rate of COVID-19 patients, the need to deliver care using personal protective equipment, the need to communicate and support relatives at a distance, and the potential risks to personal and family health.

Protecting Older People living in Care homes from COVID-19

Award:  £237,058

The research, at King’s College London, is looking at protecting older people in care homes from COVID-19.

In particular it will focus on the challenges of implementing social distancing and isolation.

The team will work with six care homes from across England. 

The aim is to turn the research findings into an evidence-based toolkit to support health and care delivery through any further outbreaks of the coronavirus.

“Whilst it is critical to protect our residents from the virus, it is just as important to understand the impact our protective actions might have on residents’ health and wellbeing.” Dr Richard Adams, Chief Executive Officer, Sears Healthcare

Lessons from the frontline: The impact of redeployment during Covid-19 on nurse well-being, performance and retention

Award £281,359

This study, at Bradford Institute for Health Research, aims to better understand how to plan for, and manage ,redeployment of nurses and support staff during a pandemic.

CONtact TrAcing in Care homes using digital Technology (CONTACT)

Award  £1,552,387

Researchers at the University of Leeds aim to evaluate whether wearable ‘Fit-bit style’ devices can effectively record contacts between care home staff, residents and visitors.

The devices will be used in 32 care homes over a year and compared to 32 other homes using the NHS Test and Trace system.

Procalcitonin: Evaluation of Antibiotic use in COVID-19 Hospitalised patients (PEACH)

Award:   £731,858

During the pandemic there has been an increase in use of antibiotics in patients with severe COVID-19. A team at the University of Leeds will investigate whether a pro calcitonin blood test (PCT) is effective in COVID-19 patients.

The Resilience Hubs project

Award: £474,380

A multi-site study led by Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust will evaluate an NHS Outreach, Screening and Support Navigation service model to address the mental health needs of key workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supported remote rehabilitation post Covid-19

Award:  £781,964

Development, deployment and evaluation of a digitally-enabled rehabilitation programme. The study is led by researchers at University College London

The prevention and treatment of persisting olfactory dysfunction following COVID-19 infection

Award: £34,011

The loss of the sense of smell is a frequent symptom of COVID-19 infection. The loss can be partial or complete. For a significant proportion of patients the loss is only temporary and their

sense of smell recovers relatively quickly. For others the problem can continue. Researchers at the University of Oxford will carry out a suite of Cochrane systematic reviews on the prevention and treatment of olfactory dysfunction due to COVID-19.