Patients treated at Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (SASH) are among the highest contributors to research studies into coronavirus in the country.

Clinicians at SASH have been working with patients to improve understanding of changes in treatment for appendicitis, cholecystitis, pancreatitis and cancer surgery as part of national and international COVID-19 research studies.

SASH contributed the largest number of patients in the country to the COVID:HAREM paper looking at patients with appendicitis and were the third biggest contributor to CHOLE:COVID cholecystitis audit.

The contribution has been a significant team effort across SASH, with staff from various specialties and roles working with the research and development team on a number of studies. As part of this, surgical trainees who wanted to maintain their skills and develop their portfolios while supporting teams in intensive care have played an important role.

Dr Bankole Oyewole, core trainee in surgery, said, “When coronavirus hit us, it was important that we monitored changes in practice. I’m proud that our whole team have got involved – it’s been an outstanding effort!”

Ms Jennifer Ma, surgical specialty trainee at SASH, is leading the PANSurg:PREDICT study, helping a team at Imperial College develop a real-time predictive risk tool as we learn to live with coronavirus over coming months and years: “Contributing this information to big national data-sets has been very satisfying – most importantly it’s helping future patients and guiding all our treatment decisions.”

SASH has also contributed around 400 data sets as part of an international effort to characterise severe emerging infections within the ISARIC study. This international study looks at novel pathogens causing severe acute respiratory illness and emerging infections.

This follows the news that SASH recruited over 100 patients to the RECOVERY trial; the biggest global study to find treatments to help coronavirus patients.

Dr Ed Cetti, medical director at Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “Clinical research studies require large numbers of patients in order to have enough data to draw accurate conclusions, so the work of the teams at SASH will really help improve our understanding of this virus. It has been a huge team effort, with teams across our trust collaborating to ensure such a good contribution. I am extremely grateful to all of the patients who were so keen to help this important cause.”