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COVID-19 research group

RCS COVID Research

The COVID-19 pandemic poses unprecedented challenges for the surgical workforce and one that has raised many questions on surgical care and safety which need urgent answers. In order to meet these challenges, we have launched the RCS England COVID Research Group.

This working group brings together the COVID-specific projects supported by the College, in order to share ideas, collaborate and support the research activity being carried out. The group aims include assisting in study design and recruitment, and the identification of funding opportunities.

In addition to surgery specific projects we endorse and support the three national studies as documented by the letter from the Chief Medical Officers

The RCS England COVID Research Group is currently formed of the projects listed below. Please consider supporting these projects and sharing details with your network and colleagues. If you have ideas for new studies we would be delighted to hear from you.


A major international cohort study investigating the outcomes of COVID-19 infected patients who undergo surgery.


A national cohort study assessing the safety of surgery for all types of cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of the pandemic in cancer delay and treatment pathways.

PPE Challenge

A web-based study to determine the challenges faced by healthcare workers in protecting themselves against aerosol contamination, and to come up with solutions.

LOTUS C19 – Bristol

Interviews with approximately 30 healthcare professionals to understand the risks in surgery in the context of COVID-19, and investigate any strategies and innovations to overcome these.

  • How to get involved: Interviews typically last around 30 minutes. Please email Daisy Elliot.

COVID Stones

An observational multi-centre cohort study investigating the clinical management and outcomes of ureteric stones during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom.


Study looking at the impact of COVID on children undergoing cleft surgery as well as the impact of delays to surgery that should normally be completed by specific ages ii) the impact of wearing PPE during long operations that require loupes, headlights or a microscope iii) the prevalence of COVID positive swabs in babies and children undergoing surgery.

How to get involved: Participation and co-authorship is open to all UK and Ireland Cleft Units. Download the protocol here and follow the project Twitter account here

Get in touch: Email the team: Neil Brierley, David Sainsbury or Felicity Mehendale


A national study to determine the change in the management decisions of patients with newly diagnosed or recurrent brain tumours during the COVID-19 pandemic.


A national study to determine the change in MDT decision-making during the COVID-19 pandemic. This project will be run in collaboration with SBNS Tumour Section.

Mitigating aerosol transmission risk when treating COVID-19 patients

A study in collaboration with experts in aerosol science exploring tools to mitigate the risk of aerosol exposure from examination or instrumentation of the airway.

  • How to get involved: If you have relevant expertise or experience and wish to discuss collaboration, please email James Tysomeor Mahmood Bhutta.

ATAC-19 (Acute thrombosis associated with COVID-19)

A research project looking into the incidence and management of mesenteric thrombosis in the context of recent or current COVID-19 infection.


A study to estimate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of emergency surgery, to inform which patients should be prioritised for emergency surgery during the COVID-19 recovery period. 

Operation COVID – Systematic Reviews

A systematic review of the literature examining operating room best practice during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Operation COVID – Global consensus

A rapid modified Delphi consensus process to determine initial operating room best practice during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Operation COVID – Initial guidance validation

A validation process mapping the OpCOVID consensus findings to the initial guidance issued by UK and US professional bodies.

CASCADE Study: Children with AppendicitiS during the CoronAvirus panDEmic

A national study assessing the impact of COVID-19 on treatment and outcomes of appendicitis in children.

  • How to get involved: Any paediatric surgeons or general surgeons who treat children with appendicitis can contact Nigel Hall or the study inbox. Alternatively, fill out this form.

HAREM Study: Had Appendicitis and Resolved/Recurred Emergency Morbidity/Mortality

An audit assessing acute appendicitis in the adult population through 3 phases of COVID-19. 

COPE study: COVID-19 in Older PEople

A multi-centre, international observational study assessing frailty and multi-morbidity in older patients admitted to hospital with a diagnosis of COVID -19.

  • More information: This study is now closed and will be reporting findings soon. 


Service evaluation assessing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on various injuries, cancer and burns.

COVID Trauma Study: Orthopaedic Trauma surveillance study across Africa

A study comprising weekly assessments across enrolled sites to capture, in real-time, the effect of the COVID 19 pandemic on orthopaedic trauma services across African healthcare services.

  • How to get involved: Please contact Simon Graham. Any African healthcare facility receiving orthopaedic trauma patients can register for enrolment.

CORSAIR: COvid-Related Service Adjustment In Referral practice

Service evaluation assessing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the management of neurosurgical emergencies.

  • How to get involved: Any interested neurosurgical unit can contact Alexis Joannides in the first instance to determine whether their data capture process can be adapted to accommodate the study.

B-MaP-C-19 - Breast Cancer Management Pathways during the COVID-19 pandemic

A national audit about changes to breast cancer management during the COVID pandemic.

UKCOPACS: UK COVID Pancreatic Cancer Survey

Survey assessing the impact of COVID on pancreatic cancer services and treatment pathways in specialist resectional units.

  • How to get involved: 97% of UK specialist pancreatic units currently contributing.  For international units please contribute by clicking here
  • More information: Please email Siobhan McKay


Study assessing the impact, feasibility and outcomes of shielding for novel coronavirus in (immunosuppressed) solid organ transplant recipients.

3D Max Face Mask (3D MFM)

A multidisciplinary collaboration assessing the impact of FFP3 masks on the surgical community with the aim of designing the next generation of FFP3 respirator protection.  

  • How to get involved: Please complete this survey 
  • For more information: Please email the study inbox or visit

ReCaP Study

A national study assessing the long-term impact of multimodality management of rectal cancer during the pandemic and beyond'.

  • How to get involved: Expression of interest form can be found here
  • More information: Please email the study inbox

SARS-CoV2 and GI surgery

A prospective study looking for sites to collect COVID swabs from the peritoneal cavity and surrounding surgical environment from patients with proven/highly suspected COVID infection undergoing surgery.


A service evaluation study to ascertain the factors around incidences of airway managers and assistants developing COVID-19 following an airway management. This will document risk factors with COVID-19, examine the use of PPE during airway management, assess demographics of airway managers and allow accurate reporting of airway management activity to support policymakers.


Capturing live and evolving data on the modifications in cancer services internationally, we hope to measure the possible burden of any delayed diagnosis and treatment and predict what resources we will need to deliver colorectal cancer care as the crisis unfolds.

  • How to get involved: Inviting colorectal units across the UK and in the United States to collaborate with this project. Register by completing the form here
  • More information: Visit


An international multi-centre collaborative audit of the management and outcomes of acute cholecystitis during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

  • How to get involved: Please complete the registration here or email for any queries.
  • More information: Download the protocol here

Surgeon Workload and PPE

A questionnaire-based study investigating the impact of enhanced personal protective equipment (PPE) on surgeon workload in theatre. We seek to capture data from lead surgeons (trainee or consultant) on all cases performed in theatre (regardless of level of PPE worn, i.e. even if operating with standard masks/gowns!)

  • How to get involved: Please complete the registration form and fill this questionnaire after each operative procedure performed as lead surgeon.
  • For more information: Please email 

Global COST Project

Global impact of COVID-19 on Surgeons and Team members (Global COST)

We aim to investigate the impact of COVID19 on surgeons and allied health professionals worldwide, of all surgical specialities; on their career, family and home life as well as overall well-being- mentally, physically (including access to PPE) and financially.

UKCoTS (UK Corona TRAUMA Surge) Project

A UK multi-centre study to record the morbidity and mortality associated with Covid-19 in patients who have had trauma (bony or soft tissue procedure) surgery during the peak of the pandemic (April 2020) compared to the cases performed on a trauma list in April 2019, as the control group. 


A national survey to assess variation in surgical practice during the pandemic, understand better what patients are being informed before surgery in relation to these new potential risks associated with COVID-19, and understand the physical challenges experienced by surgeons operating wearing PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • How to get involved: Please complete this short 10 questions, 2 minute questionnaire: here 

PanSurg PREDICT Project

A multi-centre global initiative aiming to create a real-time risk-stratification tool to help manage surgical patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

  • How to get involved: Looking for hospitals to contribute data, you can register here
  • More information: Visit the study web page 

PanSurg SSAFE: Staff and SAfety EFfects of Epidemics

A longitudinal study looking at the well-being of healthcare workers. Publishing real-time data of healthcare staff safety, psychological well-being and burnout.

  • How to get involved: Looking to gather more responses so we can better advocate for changes and initiatives that will support healthcare workers everywhere.
  • More informationResults can be seen on the custom-built live dashboard on our website here can also participate here

PanSurg ColoQ: Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on the management of colorectal cancers

This international cross-sectional survey is investigating the effects of COVID-19 on the care of patients with colorectal cancer.

  • More informationYou can see the live dashboard here
  • How to get involved: If you’re a consultant or attending who regularly manages patients with colorectal cancer we want to hear from you. Please help us by completing our survey


PanSurg REMOTE is working with the HoloLens™ from Microsoft to deploy a mixed-reality headset capability to aid in the response to COVID-19 across the full spectrum of care delivery and medical training. 

PanSurg REDASA REaltime DAta Synthesis and Analysis

In partnership with Amazon Web Services, Mirrorweb and Amorphic we’re leveraging AI and machine learning to develop a realtime data synthesis and analysis tool to aid in understanding the global COVID-19 datas sphere.

  • More information and how to get involved: Urgently need the help of data curators to drive this project.  Find out more & register your interest here

PanSurg COMS-UK: Impact of COVID-19 on Obesity Management Services in the United Kingdom

A nationwide cross-sectional questionnaire to comprehend the varying disruption of Bariatric multidisciplinary services by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is aimed at Bariatric clinicians (Surgeons, dieticians, psychiatrists, psychologists, nurse specialists and physicians) across the United Kingdom. This is to understand the diversified impact this has had on various units nationwide, taking into consideration expert opinions within each discipline.

  • How to get involved: If you are involved in the management of severe and complex obese patients, we would be tremendously grateful for your time to complete this brief questionnaire or email for more information.

PanSurg CONSULT: Consequences on Surgical Training by the COVID-19 pandemic

The CONSULT-19 survey has been developed by trainees for trainees, to understand the impact COVID will have on our career progression. Findings will be shared with all relevant training bodies to help define training in the coming months.

  • More information: Please visit the study web page
  • How to get involvedThis short survey allows the team to better evaluate the loss of training through redeployment and cancellation of elective lists. Findings will be shared will all relevant training bodies to help define training in the coming months.


A national service evaluation of tracheostomy outcome and safety in COVID-19 patients using an online survey tool. The project is in collaboration with the Intensive Care Society and has been endorsed by the Federation of Surgical Specialty Associations.

Optimising Diagnostic Pathways for Suspected Foregut Cancers during COVID-19

Potential symptoms of foregut malignancy like hoarseness and dysphagia cannot be routinely evaluated with aerosol-generating procedures likely laryngoscopy and gastroscopy during the pandemic.  This study aims to improve the consistency and transparency of clinical decisions on the cancer probability that are being made based on remote consultations.  The study provides a clinical tool to support direct clinical care and as such involves no duplication of effort, and provides data for future symptoms-based risk stratification.

  • How to get involved.  Please contact Professor Reza Nouraei at the Clinical Informatics Research Unit at Southampton University.

Using the Administrative Dataset (Hospital Episode Statistics) for capturing and reporting on COVID-19

The Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) dataset is the only complete information source about activity within NHS hospitals but the way it is generated, through the process of clinical coding, does not always lend itself to subsequent clinically-aligned, high-granularity analyses.  This project aims to implement a methodology for the capture of pertinent (presentation, morbidities, complications, and interventions – including tracheostomy –) in COVID-19 patients.

  • How to get involved.  Please contact Professor Reza Nouraei at the Clinical Informatics Research Unit at Southampton University.

COVERT (COVID Emergency-Related Trauma and Orthopaedics: national and international overview

Concurrent national and international observational studies/audits assessing the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on (1) Acute referrals and operative case mix for orthopaedic trauma in both central Trauma Centres and peripheral hospitals, (2) Major orthopaedic trauma and open fractures, (3) Paediatric orthopaedics and (4) Geriatric fragility neck of femur fracture

  • How to get involved: Please email Kapil Sugand for further information

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the wellbeing of healthcare workers globally

Collecting data on the well-being of healthcare workers during this challenging time and aiming to learn the strategies employed by healthcare systems around the world. This will allow us to learn from different systems and help design unified guidance to optimise well-being.

  • How to get involved: Please email Ankur Khajuria  for further information 
  • More information: The form can be accessed here

COVER-COVID Vascular Service study

Description: An international study of changing vascular practices, and prospective cohort study assessing short and long-term outcomes for vascular patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

  • How to get involved: Complete the practice survey weekly here or email for information about the prospective cohort study.
  • More information: Visit the COVER study homepage.

SHARE - Hydrocephalus Study

The SHARE-Hydrocephalus study aims to understand the impact of COVID-19 on children and young adults with hydrocephalus, and their parents. Initial, 2-month, and 6-month surveys of attitudes and concerns about COVID-19 and the management of childhood hydrocephalus are available for children/young adults, and their parents/carers. 

COVID-STAR (COVID-19 impact on Surgical Training and Recovery Planning)

ASiT and The Trainee Speciality Associations have launched a national collaborative survey assessing the impact of COVID-19 on surgical training to provide real world data to advocate for trainees and influence training during the recovery phase.

IMPACT Hip Fracture Audit

A global collaborative meta-audit assessing the impact of COVID-19 on hip fracture, investigating epidemiology, outcomes, and predictors to guide hip fracture care

IMPACT Services Survey

This online survey audits the impact of COVID-19 on Trauma & Orthopaedic services

  • Intended for completion by a senior clinician/manager 
  • Identifies strategies for mitigation of disruption secondary to COVID-19
  • Identifies strategies for planning and delivering T&O services post-COVID-19
  • Findings will be shared with participants and published in the literature
  • The anonymity of participating individuals and hospitals will be ensured

The BRIC Study: Biomarkers and Renal Patients in Covid

A national study to assess how patients with end-stage renal failure and renal replacement therapy, such as renal transplantation or haemodialysis, respond to COVID-19 infection. This collaborative study also aims to assess which clinical characteristics are associated with outcomes in these vulnerable cohorts through a national registry designed for this purpose.

  • How to get involved: Please email Sushma Shankar 
  • More information: Please download the study summary here.

NIHR Advanced Surgical Technology Incubator: Risks and mitigation for surgery in a COVID19 world

A multidisciplinary national network of healthcare, scientific and engineering professionals working to advance the development and application of emergent technologies applied to surgery. We can connect surgical trainees, theatre nurses, ODPs and clinical engineers wishing to get involved in research related to address COVID-related surgical questions with appropriate teams for their needs. We also welcome ideas from any community on the challenges COVID is posing for surgical teams and patients to help with prioritisation of new technology initiatives. 

  • How to get involved: Prospective young researchers or those with COVID surgical research challenges should contact Janine Zylstra

Funding opportunities

We will update this section regularly and provide links to any COVID-specific funding opportunities to support projects. Below are some of the current opportunities we are aware of:


For all queries regarding the RCS England COVID Research Group, please email

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