Research opportunities for RSC members

This page will have all current and upcoming research opportunities. We are always looking for practices to join the RSC network. For further information on any of the below, contact the team 

Virology and serology surveillance

The RCGP Research and Surveillance Centre (RSC) is currently recruiting GP practices to take part in COVID-19 virological and serological surveillance.

Virological surveillance is similar to the usual flu surveillance, where practices either take a nasopharyngeal swabin practice, or request a self-test for patients to do this at home. Serological surveillance entails practices taking an additional bottle of blood from patients who are coming into the practice for a prescheduled blood test. The bloods and swabs will give us information about background population immunity to COVID-19. This is important in order to detect the number of infections within the population and to help inform public health surveillance and planning.

All materials for this work are provided: all the practitioner needs to do is to obtain verbal consent, stick the regular patient label onto the additional bottle and form, and post it in the prepaid envelope provided. This falls under Health Protection Regulation 3, so the practice would only need verbal consent.

Find further information on virological and serological surveillance here 

Social Prescribing 

It is well established that 80-90% of health outcomes are linked to social determinants of health. These include health-related behaviours, socioeconomic and environmental factors.

Social prescribing aims to address social determinants of health. NHS England describes social prescribing as “a way for local agencies to refer people to a link worker. Link workers give people time, focusing on ‘what matters to me’ and taking a holistic approach to people’s health and wellbeing. They connect people to community groups and statutory services for practical and emotional support.” Social prescriptions are varied and include activities focused on health, education, skills development, sports and leisure/art activities. If utilised well, they can help to deliver several benefits to individuals and health and care systems including: giving a route for health and care systems to address social determinants of health; promoting self-care; building stronger communities; reducing healthcare service utilisation including GP appointments, secondary care referrals and accident and emergency attendances.

To support the rollout of social prescribing, RCGP and University of Oxford have created a Social Prescribing Observatory, that will be updated weekly. The observatory provides accurate and up to date information about social prescribing and can be found here 

Workload Observatory

The first iteration of the Workload Observatory focuses on seasonal illness, and was developed in collaboration with NHS England. 

The RCGP is now working with Oxford University to further develop the GP activity aspect of this analysis to take it beyond crude activity and develop our understanding of the more complex aspects of workload and trends over time, along with changing patient demand and related workforce need.

PRINCIPLE Trial

The PRINCIPLE trial platform is a national priority trial to find treatments for COVID-19. It is now a country-wide trial, and the only national priority platform trial in primary care.

The trial is designed to test a range of treatments in the community, with treatment arms that can be stopped, replaced or added.

PRINCIPLE is currently evaluating usual care alone versus usual care plus azithromycin; or usual care plus doxycycline. Azithromycin is a commonly used antibiotic that is anti-inflammatory, treats community-acquired pneumonia and bacterial chest infections, and has antiviral properties. Doxycycline is another commonly used antibiotic.

The trial is being run by the University of Oxford and is funded by UK Research and Innovation and the Department for Health and Social Care through the National Institute for Health Research.

For further information please visit the trial website: PRINCIPLE Trial Website.

RAPTOR-C19 - Rapid Community Testing for COVID-19

RAPTOR-C19 is a research study to assess the accuracy of different rapid tests for COVID-19 for patients in the community. Our question is whether rapid tests, which give results within minutes/hours, are as accurate as standard laboratory tests.

The research takes place in GP surgeries or COVID-19 testing sites. Accurate rapid tests mean quicker decisions about patient care and self-isolation and so are key to our efforts to control COVID-19.

Many different companies have developed rapid tests for COVID-19. They generate results in a short space of time, without the need of a laboratory. Companies check their tests are safe, and that they work in experimental conditions. However, any new test needs to be evaluated in real-life settings. We will evaluate new rapid tests against the 'standard' tests for COVID-19. 

For further information please visit the study website: RAPTOR C-19 website.

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