UCLH is one of the first sites in the UK to recruit more than 100 participants to undergo dedicated research visits for a national study looking at the long-term impacts of Covid-19 after hospitalisation for the disease.
Researchers in the PHOSP (Post Hospitalisation) Covid-19 study led by Dr Michael Marks and Prof Jeremy Brown have also welcomed the first participant recruited from the Whittington Hospital, Gary Parkhurst (pictured) – in an example of different NHS trusts working collaboratively together on the study.
The team at UCLH – one of 57 NHS hospitals involved in the study – are following patients for 12 months after discharge to monitor persistent symptoms, develop treatment approaches and guide future research. Research appointments combine physical and cognitive tests, and questionnaires to understand how symptoms are developing.
Initial study results suggested most survivors did not fully recover five months after discharge. Common persistent symptoms included breathlessness, short-term memory loss, slowed thinking, fatigue, and impaired sleep.
Gary, from Archway in Islington, spent 8 days at the Whittington with Covid-19 in September 2020, including time in intensive care.
“I had to fight for my life,” Gary said during his first research visit at UCLH. “But I was determined to recover, for the sake of my kids.”
After being discharged, Gary took 12 weeks off work, and continues to experience symptoms including memory loss, vision problems, breathlessness and fatigue. “If I have a day off work, I am likely to spend most of the day in bed to recover,” he said.
Gary is now taking part in research to help other people who are experiencing the long-term effects of the virus.
“I was asked at the Whittington to take part in research to understand why some people get so ill from Covid and others don’t, and I didn’t hesitate in taking part. And the same is true now at UCLH – I want to help other people who may be experiencing similar symptoms to me.”
Clinical research nurse Hannah Plant, who helped assess Gary on his first visit to UCLH, said: “The symptoms Gary is experiencing are unfortunately common in people after discharge from hospital, and following our trial participants will be vital to help us find the most effective ways to treat patients.”
Dr Marks (UCLH Infectious Diseases) and and Prof Brown (UCL & UCLH Respiratory) are Co-Principal Investigators of the PHOSP-Covid study at UCLH, and are leading the study alongside Dr Joseph Jacob (UCLH radiology and UCL Respiratory), and Prof David Lomas of UCLH and UCL Vice Provost (Health) who co-chairs the PHOSP Steering Committee.
The study is coordinated by the University of Leicester. It is funded by the NIHR and UK Research and Innovation.
Images: Trial participant Gary Parkhurst taking part in a balance test / PHOSP Covid team members (l-r): Rebecca Evans, Marta Merida Morillas, trial participant Gary Parkhurst, Bomi Bang, Dr Michael Marks, Hannah Plant