Celebrating research nursing with the ‘Excellence in Cancer Research’ RCNi Nurse Award

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Winner of the RCNI award and finalists

In recognition of your work on clinical cancer trials, Cancer Research UK sponsors the Excellence in Cancer Research Nursing Award category of the RCNi Nurse Awards.

The award acknowledges all clinical research nurses and clinical research nursing teams delivering research to discover new ways of preventing, diagnosing or treating cancer.

Read about the inspiring work of previous winners and finalists below:

2020 RCNi Nurse Awards

In response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the RCNi have made the decision to postpone the 2020 RCNi Nurse Awards. Thank you to those of you who submitted entries to the Excellence in Cancer Research Nursing category.

We look forward to announcing the finalists and winner later this year.

Winner: Rachel Taylor, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Rachel Taylor is the chief investigator and grant holder of the Sarcoma Assessment Measure (SAM) study to develop and validate a sarcoma-specific patient reported outcomes questionnaire that will improve communication between patients and their clinicians.

She established an interdisciplinary research team that reflects the diversity of healthcare professionals who care for patients with sarcoma, including nurses, psychologists, medical oncologists, a paediatrician and an orthopaedic surgeon. Patient representatives also contribute to the team as co-researchers.

SAM was one of the biggest recruiting studies in sarcoma last year, thanks to the involvement of a sarcoma research nurse in protocol development. By mapping care pathways they identified time points and people who could approach patients.

Finalist: Margaret Brunton, Clinical Research Network North West Coast

Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is currently the highest recruiting site in England for STAMPEDE – a high-impact prostate cancer trial – but faced stopping recruitment due to a crisis in research nurse capacity.

The study would not have survived without the three-year contribution of taskforce research nurse Margaret Brunton, who was seconded to the trust from Clinical Research Network North West Coast. She has helped streamline the patient pathway to ensure that deadlines for entry are not missed.

The study complexity has soared in terms of ongoing patient management and requests for historical data, yet she has continued to support greater numbers than ever with her holistic care. Patient feedback has been hugely positive, with Ms Brunton’s telephone follow-up reducing the need for patients to travel what for some is a 160-mile round trip.

Finalist: Ben Hood, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Newcastle CRUK (Cancer Research UK) senior nurse Ben Hood developed multimedia patient information resources for early clinical trials to support patients attending the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre who have no proven treatment options left.

He coordinated all patient and public involvement (PPI) discussion groups and drafted and proofread all the documents that emerged from the groups, ensuring the patient voice won when it conflicted with the trust’s policies on publishing information.

He has kept patients as the driving force for the project, supporting PPI members at public events to discuss its focus. He has developed a resources website, produced staff video interviews, and is now leading on development of a phone app.

Finalist: Elaine Blowers and Clare Dickinson, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust

These senior nurses took a whole-organisation approach to raising awareness of clinical trials, so that all patients coming into contact with trust staff have an equal opportunity to participate in research.

They implemented a comprehensive trust-wide programme to take their message to every member of staff at every level.

Their Introduction to Research programme includes talks, presentations and videos featuring key figures. They developed trained research champions and a staff research engagement group and created research cafes for informal talks in public hospital spaces. The senior nurses also worked with HR to ensure that job adverts, job descriptions, inductions and performance documentation incorporate research.

Finalist: Lisa Price, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Paediatric oncology research sister Lisa Price is dedicated to ensuring children and young people participating in clinical research trials receive the best support possible.

Under her leadership, a 12-strong paediatric oncology research nurse and clinical trial team has become a leading international research unit. By pioneering an enhanced research nurse role, she has enabled the team’s nurses to obtain consent. This has increased the number of tumour samples collected for banking, meaning the team is now the UK’s largest contributor.

These successes have been driven by her focus on compassionate care and excellent listening and communication skills. She engages patients of all ages and ensures they have a broad understanding of their disease, treatment and research.

Winner: Foteini Rozakeas, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Foteini Rozakeas is responsible for screening, recruiting, consenting and registering patients into the PEACE study – the Posthumous Evaluation of Advanced Cancer Environment - study. Her minimum target of 10-15 tissue harvests post-mortem per year is met in a sensitive, respectful and dignified way. She liaises with supporting recruiting sites and affiliated institutions such as hospices and the PEACE multidisciplinary team to coordinate the tissue harvests in a timely manner, 24-72 hours after death. She assists with the collection of blood and tissue samples taken at baseline and up to four further points before death, including their processing, storage and tracking.

 

Finalist: Carly Ringrose and Cristiana Da Silva Andrade Goncalves, University of Southampton

These research nurses have established and developed a phase 1 oncology trials clinic at Southampton General Hospital, delivering a portfolio of complex academic and commercial trials while showing empathy and compassion to patients with limited options and life expectancy. The clinic offers patients hour-long appointments to discuss the complex information relating to participation in a phase 1 oncology trial, reducing pressure on busy oncology clinics. The nurses support patients while they wait for treatment slots to become available and manage referrals sensitively. They deliver treatments, including novel agent first-in-human treatments and capture data.

Finalist: Karen Parsons, Northern Ireland Cancer Trials Network

Karen Parsons conducted a pilot project integrating holistic needs assessments (HNAs) into the role of cancer research nurses when they become the key workers for prostate cancer patients participating in clinical trials. The HNA includes assessment of physical, practical, family/relationship, emotional, spiritual/religious concerns and lifestyle or information needs. The process includes continence and erectile dysfunction assessment, and development of appropriate care plans and referral. As well as ensuring seamless patient care, a care plan is devised with the patient agreeing the best way to manage concerns or appropriate referrals are made. Positive feedback indicates high levels of satisfaction with information, contact, treatment and support.

Finalist: Lorraine Turner, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust

Advanced nurse practitioner Lorraine Turner led, designed and managed an audit to assess the holistic needs of the rapidly increasing number of patients referred to the experimental cancer medicine team. The audit highlighted patients who had a significantly high level of concern at referral, increasing to 79% at the end of trial, with concerns relating to current illness, treatment, physical concerns, not being able to do things, and the future. Symptoms causing significant distress at referral included pain, shortness of breath, bowel problems and lethargy. Approximately half were referred to palliative/supportive care services following assessment. Only 14% were already in contact with supportive care services.

Finalist: Valerie Cowens and the early phase nursing team, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals Foundation NHS Trust

This nursing team has demonstrated how to successfully run cancer trials in the era of personalised medicine. While its expertise is in first-in-human safety studies, it has enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to adapt working practices to deliver a molecular profiling and treatment study. This has been highlighted by the success of recruitment to the National Lung Matrix Trial in north east England, and the team’s record for ensuring patients with a potentially treatable abnormality in their lung cancer are offered a chance at treatment. The team provides continuity of care for patients during the complicated process of entering and participating in the study.

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