DOZENS of GPs across the North-East are taking part in trials for treatments for older people suffering from coronavirus.

The trials are being led by a team from Oxford University and are aimed at trialling drugs which could prevent people over the age of 50 from developing more serious coronavirus symptoms and having to be admitted to hospital.

The Principle trial is the first of Covid-19 treatments to take place in primary care, and one of the Government’s four national priority platform trials on the disease.

More than 500 GPs across the country are recruiting people to take part in the trials, including about 50 in the North-East.

In Darlington, seven GP practices have signed up, including Carmel Medical Practice, Denmark Street Surgery, Moorlands Surgery, Neasham Road Surgery, Rockliffe Court Surgery, St George's Medical Practice in Middleton St George and Whinfield Medical Practice.

In County Durham, participating surgeries are Cheveley Park Medical Centre and Claypath and University Medical Group in Durham, Great Lumley, Leadgate, Pelton and Fellrose Medical Group and Queens Road Surgery, Consett.

Prof Ahmet Fuat, of Carmel Medical Practice, said: "The study is what we call an open platform study so we can add different elements to it as we go along because we know so little about this virus. We are learning more and more.

The Northern Echo:
Dr Ahmet Fuat

"We would encourage any patient over 65 and patients who are between 50 and 65 and have other illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and lung disease to come forward to their GP if they have symptoms."

He added: "This is nationwide and we will hopefully recruit as many as we can. Of course we don't want anyone to get it but if they do, it would help us if they come forward. 

"If we find drugs that work they can be rapidly approved to use to treat patients in the future."

GPs are recruiting people aged 50 and over with underlying health conditions, or people aged over 65 regardless of underlying health conditions, into the trial.

The team is trialling a number of low-risk treatments recommended by an expert panel advising the Chief Medical Officer for England.

The effectiveness of these treatments will be compared to the current best available care.

In the first phase, the trial is evaluating whether a seven-day course of hydroxychloroquine, a well-known drug used for acute malaria and certain types of arthritis, can reduce the severity of symptoms in vulnerable groups and help avoid hospital admission. The antibiotic azithromycin will soon be added.

Participants will be closely monitored for the first 28 days, with a health record notes review taking place for up to three months to understand the longer-term effects of the illness on their health.

Professor Chris Butler, the trial's chief investigator, who is professor of primary care in the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences. said: "The Principle trial platform is enabling us to rapidly evaluate potential treatments for Covid-19 in older people who are most at risk of serious complications from the illness.

"With enough people recruited, this trial will give us the vital information we need to understand whether existing drugs can help people recover sooner and at home, without needing to be admitted to hospital – a significant milestone in the course of this pandemic.

"As soon as we find that any one of the drugs in our trial is making a critical difference to people’s health, we want it to be part of clinical practice as soon as it can be introduced."

The surgeries taking part in the North-East and North Yorkshire

County Durham

Cheveley Park Medical Centre, Belmont, Durham

Claypath and University Medical Group, Durham

Great Lumley Surgery, Chester-le-Street

Leadgate Surgery, Leadgate

Pelton & Fellrose Medical Group, Pelton

Queens Road Surgery (NEC), Consett


Carmel Medical Practice

Denmark Street Surgery

Moorlands Surgery

Neasham Road Surgery

Rockliffe Court Surgery

St George's Medical Practice, Middleton St George

Whinfield Medical Practice


Bluebell Medical Centre, Middlesbrough

Brotton Surgery, Saltburn

Discovery Practice, Middlesbrough

Hillside Practice, Skelton-in-Cleveland, Saltburn

Riverside Medical Practice, Stockton

Spring Wood Surgery, Guisborough

The Garth Surgery, also on behalf of The East Cleveland Group PCN, Guisborough

The Saltscar Surgery, Redcar

Woodlands Family Medical Centre, Stockton

Woodside Surgery, Saltburn

Yarm Medical Practice, Yarm

Tyne and Wear

49 Marine Avenue Surgery, Whitley Bay

Beacon View Medical Centre, Gateshead

Forest Hall Medical Group (also known as Stephenson Park Health Group), Newcastle

Marine Avenue Medical Centre, Whitley Bay

Park Road Medical Practice/Battle Hill Health Centre, Wallsend

Spring Terrace Health Centre, North Shields

Teams Medical Practice, Gateshead

North Yorkshire

Central Dales Practice, Hawes

Church Avenue Medical Group, Harrogate

Church Avenue Medical Group, Northallerton

Pickering Medical Practice, Pickering

Reeth Medical Centre, Richmond

Sleights and Sandsend Medical Practice, Whitby

Whitby Group Practice, Whitby

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