Manchester GPs combat long Covid by text

Primary care providers across Greater Manchester are being urged to join a new scheme to research long Covid. They simply give consent for their patients aged 18+ to receive SMS messages inviting them to join the Research for the Future programme. 

Can we really fight long Covid with texts? That’s the idea behind the Greater Manchester Research for the Future initiative.

woman holding phone

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina 🇺🇦

The scheme is pretty simple. Anyone in England aged 18 or above can register for free. They’ll then be sent information about opportunities to take part in ongoing research across all health conditions, including diabetes and cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. But the programme has a particular interest in supporting research into long Covid. 

Some 8,000 people have already registered – but the hope is to treble that number. To encourage more to join, GPs and those working in primary care can also give consent for their patients aged 18 and over to be sent an invitation by SMS to join the programme. There is no cost to the practice. To send the texts, the programme is working with health tech specialists iPLATO. 

The National Institute for Health and Care Research Clinical Research Network (NIHR CRN) is behind the Research for the Future initiative as a whole, supported by the NHS. The current programme is co-funded by NHSE via GMEC SCNs, Health Innovation Manchester and NIHR CRN Greater Manchester.  

Professor Nawar Bakerly, Strategic Clinical Lead for Respiratory Medicine at the Northern Care Alliance and Greater Manchester Clinical Lead for Long Covid Tier 4 Services, leads the Research for the Future programme and says: ‘People who get involved in health research tend to have better health outcomes, as they become better at managing their own health. Joining the research community is good for you and good for others.’ 

Peter Elton, Clinical Director at Greater Manchester & Eastern Cheshire Strategic Clinical Networks, adds: ‘I am delighted that, locally, we have a world leading team, led by Professor Nawar Bakerly, aiming to improve the management of people with long COVID. They need your support.  Already over 8,000 patients are signed up to their research database, which is already supporting many clinical trials.  If they could treble that number, it will vastly improve their ability to complete much needed research.  They will be sending out texts to patients asking them to join the register, and with your support, I am sure they will attract many more patients. It would be wonderful if your practice can sign up to supporting their project.’ 

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