New Coronavirus Treatments Being Offered To Eligible Cumbrians

New antibody and antiviral treatments are being administered to eligible patients in the community when they first test positive for coronavirus.  

Now, when eligible patients in the community with a range of conditions including cancer, liver disease, immune deficiencies and neuro disorders report a positive PCR test.

Patients will be assessed by clinicians and invited to receive appropriate medication as an outpatient at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust (NCIC).

Paul Fieldhouse, Clinical Director of Pharmacy at NCIC said: “When a patient is admitted to hospital with coronavirus, they are usually in the later stages of their illness and we can treat them with oxygen, steroids and in some cases immunotherapy medicines which are given through an intravenous drip.

“Clinical trials have shown that some immunotherapy medicines and a new antiviral medicine, have been successful in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in this group of vulnerable patients.

“Administering these medicines to patients much earlier will have a significant benefit to the patient and also reduce the numbers of people that need to be cared for in hospital.”

Gill Harrington, from Carlisle has a rare form of blood cancer and was the first patient in the north east and north Yorkshire region to receive the treatment at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle on December 16, 2021.

Due to her condition she has been shielding for two years since the start of the pandemic. She said: “I had been so careful and was terrified when I first saw the two red lines on the lateral flow test.

“But the speed in which I was given treatment was amazing, it’s reassuring to know these medications are available, and I hope it will help people feel less frightened.”

Last month, the Trust rapidly established the Covid Medicines Delivery Unit at the Cumberland Infirmary where strict protocols are in place in accessing the hospital.

Gill was given full PPE to wear and was escorted by clinical staff to the respiratory ward to receive the intravenous antibody and was back out within two hours. Gill is now on the mend and able to go out for short walks.

Although still feeling quite fatigued, she is very grateful that she was able to benefit from the medication.

She said: “It’s just superb, I have nothing but praise for our NHS.”

Vanessa Connor, Associate Director of Operations said: “We have very rapidly put a plan in place to ensure we can identify, contact, assess and administer these medications for eligible patients in the community.

“For the first few weeks, we delivered the treatment to people as an outpatient in the Cumberland Infirmary, however this week we have moved the service to Wigton Community Hospital which enables us to treat even more patients – and our first patients are now receiving treatments there.”

Those patients who are eligible have already received a letter explaining that if they test positive they may be eligible for antivirals.

Patients who are in the eligible group have been asked to contact 111 if they get a positive PCR test, to arrange this.

Vanessa Connor added: “Teams across the whole organisation have pulled together to be able to deliver this in north Cumbria.

“From the respiratory ward staff and clinicians, to the community, operational and support teams everyone has played a part in being able to bring this to our patients.”

For more information about the treatment, please visit www.nhs.uk/CoronavirusTreatments