A new research programme has been launched seeking GP practices to contribute patient data to help develop a deeper understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic in general practice.
The Nuffield Department of Primary Care at the University of Oxford and the Royal College of General Practitioners are working with primary care clinical system supplier EMIS to encourage practices to participate.
The data gathered will abide by strict governance guidelines and its hoped will help researchers better understand the spread of COVID-19.
A letter has been sent to all GP practices using the EMIS system to invite them to support the initiative. Researchers hope to use the data to support tracking when the virus could peak and to help inform government strategy around measures such as social distancing and lockdown.
Practices are also being asked to support public health surveillance by supplying samples from symptomatic patients and providing extra blood samples from asymptomatic patients having routine blood tests. Some practices are also being asked to take part in rapid clinical trials of selected medicines to reduce the duration and severity of the virus.
The programme will require up to 3,000 patients, and as many GP practices as possible.
Professor Richard Hobbs, Head of the Oxford Department of Primary Care said “This has been an extraordinary collaborative effort to compress many months of work into a few days. We are finalising the first national COVID-19 trial outside of hospital, led by Professor Chris Butler; significantly extending the only national surveillance of COVID-19 outside of hospitals; and considering efficient COVID-19 information feedback to practices.”
Dr Shaun O’Hanlon, Chief Medical Officer, EMIS Group said “Data is a powerful weapon in the fight against coronavirus.”
“Daily insight from frontline GP practices will allow us to track closely this public health emergency as it develops and enable vitally important research into treatments and a vaccination.”