Alison Paterson, intensive care nurse (left), with Kay Mitchell, the Centre for Nurse and Midwife-led Reseach lead
Senior academic and clinical colleagues provide a network of support to help them develop research to benefit patients. The Centre for Nurse and Midwife-led Research (CNMR) is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Comprehensive Biomedical Research Centre (CBRC) based at UCLH and University College London (UCL).
It is believed to be the only centre of its kind in the country which is a collaboration between a university and hospital trust to promote research in nursing and midwifery which translates into direct benefits for patients.
Sheila Adam, lead for nursing education and research and head of nursing for the surgery and cancer board at UCLH, said nurses and midwives at the bedside are ideally placed to recognise the problems patients face - and to develop interventions and improvements in response.
She added: "However, they often lack the confidence and expertise to test these innovations using formal research methodology. The centre provides a hub of support, guidance and expertise for this group of staff, offering a link to nurse academics, statisticians and other nurse researchers as well as facilitating specific projects."
Sheila described it as an exciting new venture that would benefit the staff involved and, most importantly, help to improve the care of patients. The CNMR is believed to be the only one of its kind in the country.
UCLH chief nurse Katherine Fenton added: “Supporting nurse and midwife-led research is something we believe passionately about. After taking up the post of chief nurse at UCLH this month, one of my priorities is to develop a clear clinical academic career pathway and strengthen the opportunities for nurses and midwives to get involved in this area.”
Project lead Kay Mitchell, a nurse at University College Hospital (UCH) and researcher at University College London (UCL), said: “Sometimes even a small research project can make a big difference to patient care. Nurses and midwives – whether at junior or senior level - are well placed to see what patients need and what could be improved.”
Clinical practice facilitator Julie Armoogum, who is undertaking a number of research projects linked to the children and young person’s cancer service at UCLH, has already benefited.
She said: “Previously, nurses and midwives undertaking research tended to work in relative isolation. The Centre provides a body of people to talk to and provides a structure to follow.
“I attended workshops which provided invaluable advice on how to publish research and clarified what needs to be done.”
Her research includes projects to evaluate the needs of carers of patients undergoing bone marrow transplants; the transplant information given to teenagers and the barriers faced by nurses talking to teenagers about sexual health.
Such support would also have benefited UCH intensive care nurse Alison Paterson. She recently published her research study findings into validating the effectiveness of current early warning systems (track and trigger) for identifying haematology patients who are developing critical illness.
She said: “The CNMR would have really helped me throughout the process by enabling me to tap into existing research expertise. Advice on data collection and analysis and writing the research proposal would have been invaluable.”
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The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Comprehensive Biomedical Research Centre (CBRC) was established in 2007 and is at the forefront of research into some of the major causes of illness and disease-related death.
The centre is one of five funded by the NIHR and enables UCLH and UCL to train the next generation of top researchers.
The centre at UCLH/UCL has focused on a range of advances in medical research that will have a direct impact on patients' care and quality of life, and will also save many lives. These include cancer, cardiac disease, infectious disease, women's health, oral health and neurological diseases such as epilepsy, stroke and multiple sclerosis.
18 research themes; invested over £5m in new translational research projects; invested over £25m in staff, equipment and research facilities, including the Clinical Research Facility at UCH; funded 136 consultants and recently launched new Centre for Nurse and Midwife led research.
In addition to the CBRC, UCL is the only UK university hosting two NIHR Specialist Biomedical Research Centres, formed in partnership with Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust (GOSH) and Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.