As the scale of the challenge posed by the COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly become ever clearer, we all have to radically change the way live, work and communicate with each other.
On Thursday 19 March, the NIHR announced that it is pausing all research at NHS and social care sites that is not addressing COVID-19. This is to enable NIHR researchers to focus on gathering new evidence to improve our understanding of the disease, to develop new treatments and diagnostics, and to work towards a vaccine. It is also to enable health and care clinical academic staff to return to frontline care where needed.
At NIHR ARC South London, we are re-focusing our applied research to directly address COVID-19, particularly in the areas of palliative care, social care, and ethics in public health decision-making.
The current situation has highlighted the health and social care priorities that drive ARC South London’s research – the need to improve care for vulnerable and older populations, to support people living with multiple health conditions, and to work more closely with social care services. For this reason, where we can, NIHR ARC South London will continue our non-site based research.
This is a time of deep concern for all of us. The coming weeks and months may be some of the most challenging times we are ever likely to face. I believe that through our close collaboration and support for each other, we can actively contribute to limit the harm caused by the COVID-19 virus. I see many inspiring examples of families, friends, neighbours and communities in south London pulling together, finding creative ways to help each other and protecting people most at risk.
At NIHR ARC South London, we will also be doing everything we can to play our part in meeting this local, national and global challenge and to understand its longer-term consequences.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me if you have any suggestions for how we can do more to work together to develop new strands of research that support this collective COVID-19 effort.
In the meantime, whether you are isolating at home for the next 12 weeks, managing work and caring responsibilities, or delivering frontline care, I send you, your family and colleagues my very best wishes.
Professor Sir Graham Thornicroft,
Director of NIHR ARC South London
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