16 September 2020

Bowel Research UK are pleased to be able to announce funding for a critical research project that is currently helping to tackle the fallout from COVID-19 and its effect on surgical procedures around the globe.

Over 5,000 patients have already been included in the study from 20 countries – an astonishing achievement already in these very challenging times.

Aneel Bhangu, Senior Lecturer in Colorectal Surgery at University of Birmingham who is leading the research, comments:

“We know patients with bowel diseases, many of whom need surgery, are scared of the effect COVID-19 is having on hospitals and the potential effects on them as individuals needing treatment.”

“This funding will enable us to generate the desperately needed evidence to plan the safest possible surgery for the next 5 years. This will have a direct impact both across the NHS and the world.”

Along with the Association of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland, Bowel Research UK have agreed to support the CovidSurg project.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a major strain on patients needing care from surgical teams. This has had a huge impact on those with bowel diseases, including cancers, inflammatory bowel diseases, and other problems with their gastrointestinal tracts.

The effects have been delays in care and worries the safety of performing surgery in hospitals affected by COVID-19.

Our funding will help to support a range of studies that will urgently address these concerns and create immediate outputs that can influence treatment and policy across the NHS and globally.

CovidSurg has established a platform of responsive studies to help us understand the role of surgery both during and after COVID-19 outbreaks. We hope these outputs are immediately useful for our patients with bowel diseases and needing bowel surgery. We expect these to impact directly on NHS policy and are in communication with NHS-England.

The highlight of these are two major cohort studies that will collect patient level data. The bowel disease specific studies that will provide immediate policy changing information include:

  • A global cohort study of patients undergoing surgery during with COVID-19 infection.
  • A cohort study of delayed cancer surgery over the next 6 months, with expected
  • caseloads and potential harms.
  • A high fidelity, expert led model of the number of cancelled bowel operations
  • across the NHS.
  • A prediction of the rate of postoperative COVID-19 pneumonias over the next 12 months

We expect the results of these studies to have a major impact on NHS policy, being:

  • predicting the safest environments and strategies to perform surgery during the COVID era
  • the effects on patients with bowel cancers, including delays, and the number of operations that need to be performed over the next 12 months
  • the ability to predict who will develop COVID-19 lung problems after surgery, informing decision making with patients
We will continue to keep you posted with progress of this essential project and will be launching further updates on this work in the coming weeks.

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