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OUH Cancer research team shortlisted for top nursing accolade

An Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) early phase clinical trials team have been named as finalists for the prestigious RCN Nursing Awards 2021.  The team, based at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, have been shortlisted in the ‘Excellence in Cancer Research Nursing’ category, which is sponsored by Cancer Research UK.

The RCN Nursing Awards shortlist showcases the best of nursing and the profession’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The awards celebrate innovation, skill and dedication in nursing across 15 categories, including Child Health, Learning Disability Nursing, Mental Health Nursing, and Team of the Year.

The OUH early phase clinical trials team has seen impressive results after it introduced a mental well-being assessment for early phase trial patients to ensure they were receiving effective and holistic care from the start of their treatment. The response from patients was very positive.

Its implementation has led to numerous referrals to counselling and other services and has improved communication between patients and staff, allowing them to broach subjects that may otherwise have not been addressed. The team has streamlined its referral systems since introducing the assessment. Patient feedback has been positive and nurses feel well supported to discuss emotional topics with patients who have no other treatment options left.

Caroline Miles, Senior Research Nurse, Early Phase Clinical Trials, said: “I am very proud of the early phase cancer research nursing team for reaching the finals of the RCN awards. Despite the challenges faced by the team during the pandemic, they embraced a new patient pathway, ensuring a holistic approach to patient wellbeing and symptom management. It’s a privilege to work with an amazing team, delivering the treatments of the future in such a supportive environment.”

Former patient Susan Roberts, from Gloucestershire, was enrolled on a trial by the early phase clinical trials team. She is positive about the experience, saying: “From day one everybody was very welcoming to me and I was made to feel very much at home there. If I had any issues or concerns, I could raise them and the team would listen to me and do something about it immediately. Everything was dealt with speedily and the communication was fantastic.

“It was very much about being treated as the whole person. I never went there and felt that I was a body on a drug trial. It felt to me that they cared about me as an individual, made sure that my wellbeing was good – it was mental care as well as physical care, and I could see the staff giving a lot of time to patients. It was all about making life as easy as possible for me. The whole team was very approachable and upbeat – and I actually enjoyed going there and am almost sad that I’m not going there every week now.”

Sam Foster, Chief Nursing Officer at OUH, said: “We are delighted that our early phase clinical trials team have been named as finalists for this prestigious award, and on behalf of the Trust, I’d like to warmly congratulate them.

“This team has put patients at the very centre of their research and developed a truly holistic approach to their care. It’s no surprise that patients – often the very vulnerable – have welcomed this, and no surprise that the team’s compassion and empathy have been recognised by the RCN.”

The RCN Nursing Awards finalists were chosen from 550 entries, and one category winner will receive the coveted title of RCN Nurse of the Year 2021 at an awards ceremony on Tuesday 12 October 2021.

The shortlist highlights the diversity of the profession. It includes nurses delivering home chemotherapy to children with cancer, a team helping healthcare professionals better understand young people who self-harm and a lecturer who is building stronger connections between healthcare services and the Sikh community.

It also shows how, through commitment and innovation, nurses have developed existing services and created new ones in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

These include a nurse who set up a vaccine clinic for people with learning disabilities who cannot tolerate injections, a team that ensured care home residents had meaningful visits with their loved ones despite lockdown restrictions, mental health nurses supporting traumatised health workers, and a hospice team that provided a lifeline for the carers of children with life-limiting conditions when they were unable to access their usual support networks.

Acting RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said: “This shortlist highlights nursing’s response to the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic, but also highlights what we do – day in, day out – to improve the health and well-being of our patients.

“These finalists demonstrate the very best in nursing and I am so proud of all of them.”

Watch two YouTube videos on being recruited onto the Early Phase Clinical Trials Unit and taking part in a trial with the team

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