A foster mother and ex-nurse has become the one hundredth person in Leicester to join a national study into the long-term health impacts of COVID-19 for patients who were hospitalised with the disease.
Nicola Geary from Bagworth signed up for the study called PHOSP-COVID at Leicester’s Hospitals this week.
PHOSP-COVID is led by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) – a partnership between Leicester’s Hospitals, the University of Leicester and Loughborough University – and was awarded £8.4million jointly by the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the NIHR in July.
The study is the largest of its kind to investigate the health of people who have been hospitalised as a result of COVID-19. It aims to better understand the long-term impacts of the virus to help improve their recovery.
Nicola first contracted COVID-19 in April shortly after her husband had become ill with the virus. She sought advice from her GP before being admitted to hospital for three days. Nicola said: “The worst thing was leaving the kids when I went to hospital, especially as my husband hadn’t fully recovered. You only heard about the deaths. I was terrified I wouldn’t see them again.”
“I was whisked away quickly for an X-ray and diagnosed with COVID pneumonia. The staff were amazing. The nurses were brilliant and cared for us as well as looking after themselves. I must have looked very poorly though: I video called with my brother during my stay and he was very concerned I wouldn’t survive.”
Talking about her recovery, Nicola said: “I’m still breathless and I’ve never known tiredness like this. I sit down with a book and only get two pages in before my eyes are closing. Hoovering is like a workout, I have sweat pouring off me from the sheer effort it takes. The length of recovery is frustrating.
“Joining the trial I feel I’m helping to get some sense out of the horrific illness. We have to understand more about this virus so the NHS can treat it better, so people know how to look after their recovery and so we don’t have to go through this again.”
So far, 465 people across the UK have joined the PHOSP-COVID study. In the coming months, that total is expected to rise to 10,000. The information from the study will be used to develop treatments, and will be shared globally with partners in Europe and Canada.
Dr Rachael Evans, a clinical scientist at the University of Leicester and respiratory consultant at Leicester’s Hospitals is a co-investigator on the study. She said: “We’re so pleased to be leading this important national study and grateful to every patient who gets involved.
“PHOSP-COVID will help us understand more about this new virus, such as why some people make slower recoveries or develop other health problems. It will also help us assess which treatments given in hospital and after patients are discharged are the most effective over the longer term.”
The recruitment of the one hundredth patient to the study is another milestone in Leicester’s research success story during the pandemic. Leicester’s Hospitals is the highest recruiting trust to the RECOVERY trial, which is investigating the effectiveness of different treatments for COVID-19. The University of Leicester was also awarded £2.1million UKRI-NIHR grant for the UK-REACH study, to investigate the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on healthcare workers from ethnic minority backgrounds, compared to their white European co-workers.
You can learn more about the PHOSP-COVID study here: www.phosp.org