YNM2020: A year as a ‘highly commended’ member of Research and Innovation staff – a blog by Sindhu John, Nurse Manager

I am the Nurse Manager for the Rheumatology Research Team, located at the Kellgren Centre for Rheumatology at Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI).

The Kellgren Centre manages a broad range of musculoskeletal and autoimmune disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and lupus. It is a leading translational research centre, meaning research which bridges the gap between scientific breakthroughs and new treatments and diagnostic tests for patients.

We have strong links to NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), NIHR Manchester Clinical Research Facility (CRF), The University of Manchester Centre for Musculoskeletal Research and Health Innovation Manchester (HInM), and support and deliver a large and varied portfolio of academic and commercial research studies.

Sindhu John
Sindhu John

At the beginning of 2020, I was named as one of the ‘highly commended’ members of Research and Innovation (R&I) staff for the Year of the Nurse and Midwife 2020 (YNM2020). This was a great privilege for me, as I have been in my current role for just short of two years.

I was extremely proud and honoured by the comments written by my team members in their nomination submissions. I was praised for my dedication, resoluteness and strong leadership; key skills which I believe have helped me to establish an efficient, happy and successful research team.

I am very passionate about my role; as a manager I value everyone’s contribution equally and as a team we respect and support each other. I continually encourage the incorporation of mindfulness and healthy wellbeing into working day and believe I demonstrate a calm leadership style.

Following my individual recognition and the success achieved by the whole team in 2019, we looked forward to 2020 with ambitious plans to further improve the service we provide.

We intended to particularly focus on increasing Trust-wide knowledge of rheumatology research, offering new trials and treatment options in previously unexplored disease groups and promoting diversity in research patient populations, so that all of our patients have fair and equal access to participate in research.

Unfortunately, due to the unprecedented challenges everyone in the Trust and wider NHS were faced with due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our initial team objectives were put on hold.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the majority of our research studies were paused. As a large proportion of our patients are immunosuppressed – meaning their immune systems have reduced ability to fight infections – we had extra responsibility to ensure that treatment needs continued to be met in a COVID-safe manner.

Despite this, we continued to conduct crucial research in the support of high-priority studies. This was a very challenging time for our staff and patients alike. But as a team, we were able to successfully adapt to new and different ways of working – a great testament to all members of our team.

In the midst of this difficult time, we were delighted to recruit the first UK participant to the NIHR IMID Bioresource. The Immune Mediated Inflammatory Diseases (IMID) BioResource is a national database of inflammatory disease patients willing to participate future research studies – and is led by MFT.

I am extremely proud of my wider team – which includes Clinical Research Nurses, a Clinical Research Practitioner, Clinical Trials Coordinator, Clinical Trials Assistant and some very supportive research-active doctors – who have all worked incredibly hard to get this underway!

This year we have not only delivered on rheumatology research studies, but members of my team have played an instrumental role in supporting COVID-19 treatment and vaccine studies. Without hesitation, the members of the team stepped up to the meet the challenge and I am very proud of their contribution to the research response to the pandemic. 

This year has of course been very different for everyone, but I am very proud to say that we have been at the forefront of meeting the challenge posed by COVID-19.

We may have not achieved all of what we initially set out to in this year, but nevertheless I can look back with a great sense of admiration for all my staff for their continued efforts – and in lots of ways we have achieved more than we could ever have imagined.

Finally, I would like to thank everyone who took time to nominate me as part of YNM2020. I would also like to extend my gratitude to the R&I Senior Management team for choosing me, and for all their continued support.