Investigating the challenges and opportunities for medicines management in an NHS field hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic

Hospital admissions from COVID-19 initially increased rapidly within the UK. National Health Service (NHS) field hospitals are part of a capacity building response built at great scale and speed to respond to the anticipated increased demand the NHS faces during this time. NHS Nightingale Hospital Birmingham (NHB) is modelled to treat mild to moderate (non-critical care) COVID-19 disease, to provide step-down capacity for patients in recovery, or for palliating patients in the dying phase of their disease in the Midlands. Opportunities and challenges presented for optimal medicines management (MM) during the development of the NHB are investigated, and a framework developed to support future NHS field hospitals of this model.

A team, comprised of an associate medical director, trust chief pharmacist and senior pharmacists iteratively developed a framework to convert the large non-hospital setting into a functioning NHS field hospital with standardised MM processes adjusted appropriately to cope with operational constraints in the pandemic situation. NHB has, because of its repurposing, both challenges and advantages affecting MM that influence development of the framework. Throughout implementation, a 7-week period between announcement and opening, there was continuous evaluation, external stakeholder validation and peer review.

The PESTLE model, a mechanism of analysis to identify elements of a project environment (Political, Environmental, Social, Technological, Legal and Economic), was applied to identify influencing factors and support detailed project planning. Compliance with medicines legislation was at the forefront of all MM process development for the NHB field hospital. Internal factors were identified by the core MM team, resulting in a workforce, education & training and clinical pharmacy MM plan.

MM processes are extensive and integral to NHS field hospitals. The presented framework of influencing factors may support future NHS field hospital development. It is pertinent to have a broad team working approach to any large-scale project such as outlined here, and suggest the identified factors be used as a core framework for development of any future MM processes in NHS field hospitals.

Involvement of interleukin 6 in SARS-CoV-2 infection: siltuximab as a therapeutic option against COVID-19

The aim of the study was to explore the involvement of interleukin 6 in SARS-CoV-2 infection, and to position the drug siltuximab in the management of severe forms of COVID-19. A bibliographic search was performed in Pubmed on the immune response to the disease, and in on clinical trials with interleukin 6 blockers. Interleukin 6 is involved in the cytokine cascade, which originates as a consequence of an excessive immune response secondary to viral infection, aggravating lung affectation. Blockers of this cytokine (tocilizumab, sarilumab and siltuximab) are being studied as a strategy for treating the disease. Siltuximab is a monoclonal antibody indicated in Castleman’s disease that could be administered in a single dose of 11 mg/kg in severe forms of COVID-19 that have increased interleukin 6.