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Cheshire GPs back pioneering research into COVID-19

Cheshire GP practices have signed up for crucial national research to protect people from Coronavirus (COVID-19) – and they are urging patients to get involved.

Thirteen Cheshire GP practices answered a call to enrol patients onto a study called PRINCIPLE, or the Platform Randomised trial of Interventions against COVID-19 in Older People.

  • Ashfields Primary Care Centre, Sandbach
  • Broken Cross Surgery, Cumberland House Surgery, High Street Surgery, Park Green Surgery, Park Lane Surgery and South Park Surgery, Macclesfield
  • Chelford Surgery, Macclesfield
  • Danebridge Medical Practice, Northwich
  • Hope Farm Medical Centre, Ellesmere Port
  • Kiltearn Medical Centre, Nantwich
  • Middlewood Partnership, Bollington, Disley and Poynton
  • Readesmoor Medical Centre, Congleton

The study – one of three public health research studies prioritised by the Department of Health and Social Care – will enable researchers to evaluate treatments to prevent the progression of COVID-19 in older people.

Dr Andrew Wilson (pictured), Chair of NHS Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “I’m extremely proud of the way primary care colleagues in Cheshire continue to care for patients despite the COVID-19 outbreak. Practices are showing remarkable flexibility in their approaches to support local people.

“This research could prove pivotal in enabling those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 to recover more quickly.”

Nationally, more than 500 GP practices are recruiting people aged 65 or over, or 50–64 with a pre-existing illness onto the trial. Older people who have had coronavirus symptoms for 15 days or less can now also screen for the trial.

Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, at Oxford University, is fast-tracking the study, while the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Networks (CRN) for Greater Manchester and North West Coast are encouraging eligible patients to take part.

Irrespective of their GP practice, older people with symptoms can also pre-screen for the trial via an online questionnaire: https://www.phctrials.ox.ac.uk/principle  

Dr Sheila McCorkindale, specialty lead for primary care at NIHR CRN Greater Manchester, said: “Research is a key part of the Government’s strategy to stop COVID-19 and it is vital that studies are carried out with patients in all types of clinical settings – including general practice and out-of-hours.

“Staff at primary care centres have done an excellent job fast-tracking this study and we thank them for their efforts. The trial’s reach is now being expanded via the questionnaire. The more patients who take part, the more they can potentially benefit from the treatments.”

Dr Pete Wilson, from the Middlewood Partnership, said: “When faced with the national emergency of COVID-19, we were determined to get the PRINCIPLE study set up extra-fast – a task that’s taken much hard work but which our team has carried out superbly.”