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Paget staff awarded national fellowships

23 July 2020


Two James Paget staff have been awarded national fellowships to develop their careers in clinical research.

Claire Whitehouse - a woman in a grey nurses uniform with a red belt - and Rene Gray - a man in a white shirt and dark blue trousers - stand on a road outside our hospital that is painted with the words 'thank you NHS' , The NHS part is on a rainbow coloured heart.

The Health Education England (HEE) and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Integrated Clinical Academic programme provides research training awards for Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professional (NMAHP) staff to allow the development of careers that combine research with continued clinical practice and professional development.

The programme gives nurses, midwives and allied health professionals the opportunity to apply for bridging fellowships to build on their previous academic training and to develop proposals for a pre or post-doctoral award.

The James Paget prides itself on providing research opportunities for patients and staff and, earlier this year, launched a Research Hub to bring this work together and to encourage staff to explore opportunities to broaden their involvement in research. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the valuable role of research in health care and our research team are continuing to encourage interest in their work and to talk to colleagues about developing their own clinical and academic careers.

Part of this work was encouraging staff to apply for available funding and, as a result, two applications were made for bridging fellowships – one by Rene Gray, a Physiotherapist who is Orthopaedic Therapy Team Lead at the James Paget and the other by Senior Nurse for NMAHP Research Claire Whitehouse.

This was the first time applications had been made by Paget staff and both Rene and Claire were shortlisted and interviewed via video link. They have now been told they have been successful in being awarded 12-month fellowships to start in November 2020. 

Rene, who is based in the Integrated Therapies Department and has been selected for the NIHR/HEE pre-masters bridging programme award, said; “I will be looking at how we can improve the quality of clinical care provided to patients following femoral fracture and subsequent surgery. This will focus on improving support for patients experiencing post-operative delirium or exacerbation of existing cognitive impairment, such as dementia, to allow earlier mobilisation. Early mobilisation in this population is linked to improved recovery of function, reduced mortality, reduced acute length of hospital stay and increased likelihood of returning to their own home.”

Claire, meanwhile, has been successful in securing a NIHR/HEE pre-doctoral bridging programme award. She says; “My focus will be on supporting the nursing, midwifery and allied health professional workforce with capacity, capability and confidence to undertake research, alongside developing their academic qualifications. We know that experienced and knowledgeable staff have fantastic ideas which can be developed in to research questions which directly impact patients, so enabling them to deliver those ideas will positively impact upon patient care and their own learning. Developing a research pathway at the James Paget to support recruitment and retention of staff is really exciting and something we've not done before here. 

“We would both like to thank our managers and the Trust for supporting this initiative and we look forward to helping and supporting other staff to apply in future.”