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OUH cancer research team wins top nursing accolade

Rosie Lomas represented the team at the awards

An Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) early phase clinical trials team was victorious at this month's prestigious RCN Nursing Awards 2021 (Tuesday 12 October 2021).

The team of nurses, based at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, was celebrated in the 'Excellence in Cancer Research Nursing' category, sponsored by Cancer Research UK, recognising the dedication and hard work the nursing team has put into patient care.

Beating four other nominations to the prominent prize, the Early Phase Clinical Trials Unit (EPCTU) was praised for making sure cancer patients who were entering clinical trials as a last resort received the support they needed.

Representing the team on the night of the virtual awards, Rosie Lomas, Cancer Research Nurse at OUH, said: "We were ecstatic to even be considered for this award alongside strong competition from several other fantastic entrants. We've been working on this project since before the pandemic and we are so proud that, despite all the challenges we faced last year, our patients have continued to be assessed effectively and holistically.

"Psychological wellbeing is such an essential part of cancer care and so much research has shown that improving access to supportive networks at an early stage can make a massive positive impact on patients. Early Phase Clinical Nursing is an innovative and exciting area to work within and is continuously developing – I’m just so proud of our team."

EPCTU has seen impressive results after its introduction of a mental wellbeing assessment for early phase trial patients to ensure they were receiving effective and holistic care from the start of their treatment. The team continue to get fantastic feedback from patients, who are often undergoing very difficult times as they partake in clinical trials for cancer treatment.

The implementation of the assessment has led to numerous referrals to counselling and other services and it has improved communication between patients and staff, allowing them to broach subjects that may otherwise have been unaddressed. 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 at the Trust, said: "It is an absolute privilege for me to lead the early phase nursing team and it is an honour for us to win this award.

"Our team has shown complete strength, resilience, and compassion through a very difficult time during the pandemic. The introduction of the wellbeing assessment tool, led by one of our research nurses, Rosie Lomas, demonstrates a patient centred approach and provides holistic support to patients taking part in cancer clinical trials. This RCN award is a very proud moment for the team."

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

Sam Foster, Chief Nursing Officer at OUH, said: "To have our early phase clinical trials team named as winners and have its excellence recognised at these awards is a phenomenal achievement. I'd like to congratulate all those involved in the service that provides outstanding compassionate and patient-centred care – they should be so proud of what they do."