The UK government has announced the launch of “one of the world’s largest comprehensive research studies” into the long-term health impacts of coronavirus on hospitalised patients.

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said around 10,000 patients are expected to take part in the new study, which is being supported by £8.4 million from the government, through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

Led by the NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre, a partnership between the University of Leicester and the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, the PHOSP-COVID study will pull together a consortium of leading researchers and doctors from across the UK.

The researchers will assess and publish findings on the impact of COVID-19 on patient health and their recovery, including looking at ways to help improve the mental health of patients hospitalised with coronavirus and how individual characteristics – such as gender or ethnicity – might influence recovery.

It is hoped that the findings will support the development of new strategies for clinical and rehabilitation care, including personalised treatments based on the particular disease characteristics that a patient shows in order improve their long-term health.

“As we continue our fight against this global pandemic, we are learning more and more about the impact the disease can have not only on immediate health, but longer-term physical and mental health too,” said Hancock.

“This world-leading study is another fantastic contribution from the UK's world-leading life sciences and research sector. It will also help to ensure future treatment can be tailored as much as possible to the person.”

This study is one of a number of COVID-19 studies that have been given urgent public health research status by the Department of Health and Social Care. Patients are expected to start being recruited by the end of July.

“As we emerge from the first wave of the pandemic, we have new insights into the acute phase of this disease but very little information about patients’ long-term needs,” noted Chris Brightling, Professor of Respiratory Medicine at the University of Leicester, Consultant Respiratory Physician at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and Chief Investigator.

“It is vitally important that we rapidly gather evidence on the longer-term consequences of contracting severe COVID-19 so we can develop and test new treatment strategies for them and other people affected by future waves of the disease.”