During the peak of the pandemic NHS, teams across the country continued to provide vital medicines to vulnerable patients that had tested positive for Covid-19.
Across Humber and North Yorkshire four acute trusts set up Covid-19 Medicine Delivery Units (CMDUs) covering Hull, Vale of York, North Yorkshire, North and North East Lincolnshire, provided medicines and treatments to support their recovery from Covid-19. In total, some 1,870 patients suffering from the Covid-19 virus were able to receive specialist medicines to support them in their recovery.
Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust’s CMDU went live in December 2021, initially providing intravenous treatments, led by their infectious diseases team. This was followed by York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust with the introduction of oral anti-viral medication. Hull and York were soon followed by Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust and Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust.
CDMUs also ensured patients received their urgent medicines by providing a courier service of medicines where necessary so that those patients could receive treatment while isolating at home. The use of CMDUs and the Covid-19 medicine treatments helped vulnerable patients recover quicker, relieved symptoms and avoided hospitalisation.
Vulnerable patients who were eligible for the Covid-19 medicine treatments were referred to the service via a triage system, now being managed by Yorkshire Health Partners, a federation of 11 GP practices across East Riding.
Many vulnerable patients were identified and offered Covid-19 medicines through the PCR test system which identified positive and vulnerable patients who were then contacted by text to confirm they may be eligible for treatments and that the CMDU would contact them. Many patients received letters centrally from the NHS and some from their GP/hospital specialists making them aware they were potentially eligible if they tested positive and the NHS 111 service was also able to refer patients.
As a vulnerable patient with multiple sclerosis, Rebecca Race from Hull was eligible for antiviral treatment should she contract Covid-19.
She said: “I caught Coronavirus in May 2022 prior to attending an oncology appointment. The NHS 111 service referred me to receive antiviral medication via the Covid Treatment Delivery Unit. Dr Kate Adams rang me that afternoon and as she knew of me through Outpatient Parenteral Antibiotic Therapy I had undertaken and had already checked my medical records and an earlier blood test.
“Dr Adams the Clinical Lead at Hull CMDU carefully went through the options and the possible side effects of each medicine, letting me make an informed choice about receiving the Covid-19 antiviral treatment. My husband collected the antiviral medicines from our local pharmacy which meant I could be treated at home. “
“The idea of the access to the treatments is fantastic, but when you are becoming increasingly ill and breathless, having to chase up and talk a lot to receive them is quite difficult. However, I cannot fault Dr Adams for her advice, reassurance and ability to allow me to make an informed choice.”
Patients who were not eligible could speak to specialists and were screened by healthcare professionals to assess the need for access to further support. Patients were able to access the CMDU for the Covid-19 medicines within five days of a positive test.
Dr Nigel Wells, Clinical Lead at Humber and North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership said: “With some 1,870 people having received treatments within Humber and North Yorkshire during the height of the pandemic, it is important that we recognise the pace in which our trusts worked together to produce these services and help those vulnerable patients.
“This is a key example of successful collaboration between NHS organisations which will under line our future work and services.”
Dr Kate Adams, Consultant Infectious Diseases at Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and Clinical Lead Hull CMDU said: “Setting up the Hull CMDU at great speed at a time when the Trust and the NHS as a whole was under severe pressure, was one of the biggest challenges of my career and one that I am immensely proud of. Just after the CMDU was set up, the region was hit by the first wave of Omicron, so the numbers of patients being referred to us each day were several fold higher than had been anticipated or planned for.
“I truly think that the time we spent talking to these patients, telling them how to manage their symptoms and reassuring them that they would be OK, was worth just as much to some people as the treatment. The CDMU undoubtedly helped to relieve the pressure on both primary and secondary care through December, January and February.”
CDMUs will currently continue to autumn 2022. It is likely that Covid-19 medicine treatments will be managed by primary care services in the future.
To find out more about Covid medicines and treatments visit the NHS website.