COVID-19-based Clinical Trials in the UK’s NHS: Research Nurses & Midwives Pivotal for Success

COVID-19-based Clinical Trials in the UK’s NHS Research Nurses & Midwives Pivotal for Success

The UK, like America, has been hit hard by COVID-19. Clinical trials represent a vital path to not only test existing drugs that may inhibit or impact SARS-CoV-2 but also as a way to urgently care for those infected COVID-19 patients in the NHS, the UK’s national health system. NHS trusts are encouraged to prioritize clinical trials approved by the system’s four chief medical officers. As it turns out, clinical research nurses and midwives are foundational contributors for the successful execution of these clinical trials. Due to pandemic conditions, NHS trusts have modified standard research norms and practices. For example, informed consent processes are modified to deal with situations such as loss of patient capacity and the absence of family members. These individuals must be treated and the standard informed consent process would impede that fundamental need. Nurses and midwives in the UK have creatively adjusted and adapted to handle the challenges associated with COVID-19 like the aforementioned informed consent, or the collection of biological samples and other patient data in isolated conditions. While some real breakthroughs have occurred, such as in the RECOVERY trial at Oxford, numerous other studies continue.

Recently published in The Nursing Times, TrialSite shares a recent important piece authored by Heather Iles-Smith, head of nursing research and innovation, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust; Helen Jones, head of research nursing, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust; Claire Petersen and Louise Young, both senior clinical research nurses at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust; and Mary Wells, lead nurse for research, Imperial College Healthcare NHS trust.

The Nursing Times article emphasizes the critical importance of clinical research as a fundamental underpinning of the UK government response to SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind the COVID-19 pandemic. Key to success to date: clinical research nurses and midwives, after all the rapid implementation of clinical trials in the UK targeting COVID-19 related illness wouldn’t be possible without these important roles. 

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