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Major study into long-term health effects of COVID-19

Clinicians and researchers across Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board are taking part in a national study into the long-term health impacts of COVID-19 for patients who were hospitalised with the disease.

The Post-Hospitalisation COVID-19 Study (PHOSP-COVID), is supported by the Research Team at the Health Board through Health and Care Research Wales. The local Principle Investigator for the study is Dr Ahmed Abou-Haggar and is led by the NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre.

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.

Rebecca Lloyd Lewis was diagnosed with COVID-19 during April 2020 and became so unwell she was admitted to Glan Clwyd Hospital.

She said: “I wasn’t particularly worried when I first started to experience symptoms, which were mainly back pain and feeling pretty tired.

“However, I did notice I was getting quite breathless and exhausted after doing short walks and over the next few days I began to feel very unwell and had a high temperature.

“By the time I was admitted into hospital I was extremely sick, I’d never felt like this way before. I was in hospital for five days after being diagnosed with COVID pneumonia, it was really worrying as I’m normally fit and well.”

Rebecca, who is also a Ward Manager at Glan Clwyd Hospital, is now part of the study to help researchers find treatments to help others who have been hospitalised due to the disease.

“I am really pleased to be part of a study that is looking into the long term affects this virus has on people’s health.

“We still don’t really know what the effects are and how long we have them for.

“It has also helped me to feel more reassured that the way I’m feeling now is normal, such as feeling very tired, and that others have these symptoms following COVID.

“I think it’s a really important study to be part of and will help many others who have sadly been affected by this virus,” she added.

For many people who were hospitalised and have since been discharged, it is not yet clear what their medical, psychological and rehabilitation needs will be to enable them to make as full a recovery as possible.

Clinical Research Nurse Specialist, Joanne Lewis, who is part of the Health Board Research Team who have recruited 45 participants into the trial across the three acute hospitals, said: “We are so pleased to be part of 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.”

Dr Nicola Williams, Director of Support and Delivery at Health and Care Research Wales, said:

“It’s important that we help in understanding as much as possible about the virus and the impact it has on people’s lives, including the effects of long COVID. The Post-Hospitalisation COVID-19 Study is running in five health boards across Wales as one of the many COVID-19 research studies taking place.

“Research can help us find effective treatments and care for those who fall ill and to aid longer term recovery.”