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Two RECOVERY research teams from the Wessex region have been recognised for their efforts during the pandemic.

Staff at Dorset County Hospital (DCH) and Royal Bournemouth Hospital picked up awards for Outstanding Contribution to COVID-19 Research at a virtual ceremony hosted by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network (CRN) Wessex on 13 May.

The awards acknowledge the region’s contribution to the delivery of nationally prioritised urgent public health studies. James Rees, Senior Research Paramedic from the DCH RECOVERY trial team, said ‘We are honoured to receive this award. Throughout the pandemic, we have worked hard to offer our patients the opportunity to be involved in research studies like the RECOVERY trial, as it means we can provide something on top of standard treatment for COVID-19.

‘Although it’s not been straightforward as a lot of our patients have been very unwell, lots of our patients have been keen to get involved in research to help advance our understanding of the disease.’

The RECOVERY trial identified the steroid dexamethasone as the first drug to improve survival rates in hospitalised COVID-19 patients with respiratory complications. DCH has received praise from the NIHR for recruiting one of the highest proportions of patients admitted with COVID-19 into the trial, enabling as many people as possible to have the opportunity to take part in this vital research.

Dr Zoë Sheppard, Head of Research at DCH, added ‘We feel incredibly proud to have been part of something so important and it’s been great to see the value of research recognised so widely. When things return to normal, we hope to build on this momentum and harness the interest in research and take it forward beyond COVID-19.’

The annual NIHR CRN Wessex award ceremony provides an opportunity to celebrate the outstanding work of research teams in the Wessex region, which covers Dorset, Hampshire, South Wiltshire and the Isle of Wight. The award ceremony, which was originally due to be held at St Mary’s Stadium in Southampton in November 2020, took place via Zoom, with over 100 virtual attendees.

A full list of award winners can be viewed on the NIHR website.