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Cancer research nurse joins fight against coronavirus

Mandy Edwards

Cancer Research UK nurse from Abergavenny has been asked to join the fight against Coronavirus and use her experience to help experts find better treatments.

Mandy Edwards, the charity’s lead research nurse in Wales is helping experts across the UK to collate and co-ordinate crucial data from Covid-19 patients to be analysed, as part of the UK wide endeavour to find better treatments for the virus through research.

The nurse, is part of a team of research nurses and doctors in the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board area, who are working on the Randomised Evaluation of COVID Therapy (RECOVERY) trial out of the Nevill Hall Hospital in Abergavenny.

The RECOVERY trial, which is an urgent public health study being led by researchers from the University of Oxford and funded by the Medical Research Council, is running across the UK, and is testing existing or new drugs as potential treatment options for hospitalised adult Covid-19 patients. Experts are examining treatments including those commonly used to treat HIV, an anti-malarial drug,  high dose steroids, antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs to see if they are safe and effective. The trial has an adaptive design, meaning it can test new therapies as they become available.

This work is an example of the many urgent public health research studies which are already taking place in Wales with further studies being set up through Health and Care Research Wales.

Mandy said: “As a nurse you always just want to help wherever you are needed. I’m so proud to be a nurse and to know I can make a difference really keeps me going. Since I started working for the NHS 18 years ago I have never, ever seen anything like the Covid-19 crisis. It’s shocked and concerned all of us working in the NHS. Wherever I can help, I will.”

As well as supporting the Covid-19 research, Mandy is continuing her vital work to co-ordinate cancer research trials within Aneurin Bevan as well as staying in touch with a team of 14 nurses across Wales. The team has adapted to the challenges of getting vital medication to cancer patients by creating bespoke ways of delivering treatments to them to protect them from the Coronavirus.

Mandy continued: “Our cancer patients rely on these trials and they are still very much at the forefront of my mind. I’m still doing everything I can to help them access their treatment. This has sometimes involved meeting patients’ partners in hospital car parks or posting medication to them via recorded delivery. We want to keep our patients safe and well and ensure they get their lifesaving treatment.”

Cassandra Miles, Cancer Research UK spokeswoman for Wales, said: “We are proud of all our nurses, doctors and scientists, some of the best in the world, who are turning their focus to Covid-19 during this global pandemic. They are providing desperately needed capacity at a time of national crisis.

“We need to beat the pandemic together. The sooner we do that the sooner our talented team can get back to beating cancer. If anyone affected by cancer is worried about the impact of COVID-19, there is more information on our website”

Professor Kieran Walshe, Director of Health and Care Research Wales, said:

“We’re facing an unprecedented challenge as we try to tackle the spread of COVID-19. It’s important we’re able to use our research capabilities and expertise to gather timely evidence that can lead to the most effective treatments and care, and ultimately a vaccine.

“There is a UK-wide process to prioritise urgent public health COVID-19 research studies to ensure that all resources are contributing to one big national effort. I believe the research community in Wales can continue to make a difference and play a full part in that effort to find a solution to COVID-19.”