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ComFluCov study inaugurating the new Grounded Research Hub

By Heather Rice, Assistant Director of Research, Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH)

I’m delighted to say that last Friday 21st May 2021 we finished the first exciting week of vaccine trials in our new Grounded Research Hub, which opened its doors last month in the Tickhill Road Hospital site, Balby, Doncaster.

Grounded Research are the research team at Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH) and our researchers have been the only Northern team on the ‘ComFluCov’ trial, which is looking into whether COVID-19 and flu vaccines can be administered at the same time.

ComFluCov is an important trial, because with the challenges of immunising large numbers of people against COVID-19, and the need to continue the seasonal flu vaccination schedule, we know it would help enormously if we could give people both their COVID-19 booster and flu vaccine at the same appointment. This would mean receiving two vaccines on the same day, one in each arm.

The study is sponsored by University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust and supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). It started for us in Grounded Research on Monday 17th May, and we asked for volunteers from people aged 18-65 who had received one dose of the Pfizer COVID vaccine between 25th February and 28th April. Those volunteers will play a crucial role in the global effort to continue to protect people from COVID-19, now and in the years to come.

We were especially excited to inaugurate our new Hub. It has been designed with input from all parts of the local community, our staff and our patients, because we want all our environments to be safe, welcoming and inclusive for everyone. As a result, the Hub has colourful people-centred treatment rooms, consulting rooms, a pharmacy, clinic rooms, a quiet room and a post-vaccination observation room – as well as staff changing rooms and showers to allow for a fully COVID secure setting.

Establishing the new Hub has been a collaboration with NHS partners from primary and secondary care, local government, and higher education. It is funded by the NIHR (National Institute for Health Research), the nation’s largest funder of health and care research, through its Clinical Research Network Yorkshire & Humber .

By a happy coincidence we were pleased to see that this last week on ComFluCov coincided with the NIHR’s ‘Be Part of Research’ campaign, which is running from Monday 17th May to Thursday 17th June, and which included last Thursday’s International Clinical Trials Day.

This welcome focus on research, the vital importance of volunteers and the essential role they play, has been a wonderful opportunity to highlight the great things that can be achieved with public support. We know that the COVID-19 vaccination programme, the largest such programme in British history, has made incredible progress and that the vaccines developed have been thanks to volunteers taking part in trials.

The idea that research comes from our communities is central to our work at Grounded Research. Research is open to people from all backgrounds and diversity amongst research participants allows us to reflect the population better, and address some long-standing health inequalities.

Our first week in the new Hub, the first of many I hope, has reinforced those basic principles. And above all it has shown how partnerships of all sorts – those between the organisations that established the Hub, between the research staff and volunteers, and between the different NHS Trusts that make up the national ComFluCov trial – can make life-changing differences to people’s lives.

For more information about the study and how to sign up please follow this link https://comflucov.blogs.bristol.ac.uk/participate-rotherham-doncaster-and-south-humber-nhs-foundation-trust/ or look on the RDaSH website under news.

To contact Grounded Research please phone 01302 798456 or email rdash.groundedresearch@nhs.net.