YNM2021: Welcoming NMGH – a blog by Tracey Hodgkiss, Research Nurse Manager, Cancer and Core Team

Author:Tracey Hodgkiss

Author: Tracey Hodgkiss

Research Nurse Manager

Three North Manchester General Hospital (NMGH) nursing teams have now joined Research and Innovation (R&I) at MFT: Cancer and Core, Diabetes and Respiratory and Infectious Diseases. In the final instalment of our three-part R&I blog series, Tracey Hodgkiss introduces herself, her role and the NMGH Cancer and Core Research Team.

Hello, my name Tracey Hodgkiss and I am the Research Nurse Manager of the NMGH Cancer and Core Team.

Tracey Hodgkiss

Tracey Hodgkiss

Eleven years ago, I walked into NMGH as a Senior Research Nurse, and I can still remember the overwhelming warm welcome I received. I was anxious at first, because I had just left The Christie Hospital where I had worked for 20 years, but it didn’t take me long to feel at ease and I loved how quickly I felt like a member of the NMGH family. More than a decade later, I still enjoy working at NMGH and I am honoured to be a part of such a wonderful and very research-active hospital, with an internationally recognised Research and Innovation department.

I manage a team of five experienced senior clinical research nurses, and we also have a clinical research practitioner who is part of our team. We are called the Cancer and Core Research Team because we primarily deliver cancer research studies, but over the past few years we have been working on other specialty research project; including cardiology, surgery, anaesthetic, and critical care.

We work in a well-organised way, with an established culture of working collaboratively as a team and always putting patients’ care at the heart of what we do.

We continuously engage in seminars and training programmes to improve our knowledge of research methodology, recruitment and implementation.

Raising awareness of the importance of research to healthcare and drawing attention to the ways in which research can become more relevant to practice has been one of the aims of the team. In the past two years, we have planned and organised three major events, including an annual one to mark International Clinical Trials Day. In recognition of our work, we have been named ‘Team of the Year’ as part of the annual the NIHR Clinical Research Network Greater Manchester awards. We have also won several internal trust awards, such as the ‘Clinical Excellence’ award, ‘Front Line Team of the Year, award, and two nurses within the team have received ‘Long Service’ awards from the Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, our legacy trust.

Working in research during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed an unprecedented challenge to the NMGH the workforce, with Research and Innovation no exception. In response to the pandemic, most of our existing research studies were paused; with only those essential to patient safety continued, supported by a small number of clinical research nurses. Most of us were redeployed and had to quickly adapt to infectious disease research. My team was central in the early set-up and the rapid implementation of COVID-19 research trials at NMGH; working collaboratively with colleagues – both within our organisation and externally – to deliver these Urgent Public Health (UPH) studies.

Supporting research participants and their families during their involvement in clinical trials is also a key part of our role, now more than ever.

For cancer and cores studies, it has been necessary for my team to adapt and innovate so all studies can be delivered within the context of severely ill patients, absent family and the required isolation and infection control procedures. Hence, it was essential for me to ensure that my staff had the support required to thrive and deliver the best service possible to our research participants during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have implemented procedures to safely conduct study follow-ups and obtain informed consent from participants and relatives remotely, and I’m really proud of how everyone has adapted.

My team and I are excited to formally join MFT – we are ready to meet you all and work within a Trust that promotes and implements pioneering research and innovation, which contributes to improvements in patient care globally.