An innovative new programme to support research and practice improvement by nurses, midwives and allied health professionals was launched this week at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Funded by Oxford Hospitals Charity, the new initiative to investigate improvements for patient care, aims to encourage staff to find practical and impactful solutions to a number of hospital challenges, such as preventing falls, hospital-acquired ulcers and intravenous nutrition of patients.

The Oxford Hospitals Charity Chief Nursing Officer Fellowship scheme invited staff from across the Trust to apply for the six-month programme.

Five staff, including three nurses, a midwife and a pharmacist, have now been chosen for the first round of the fellowship - which provides them with the tools, time and support through a structured research programme to focus on areas that the Trust is keen to improve.

Chief Nursing Officer, Sam Foster, explains: “It is so exciting to see our first cohort and hear their eagerness to get going. Giving staff of all levels access to research opportunities is really important as it encourages new ways of thinking and innovative ideas and solutions to improve patient care, as well as helping them grow their experience, which is good for staff recruitment and retention.

“We are incredibly grateful to Oxford Hospitals Charity for providing the funding to support this initiative, which also supports our strategic aim of increasing research awareness, capability and capacity in the nursing, midwifery and allied health professional workforce, in the knowledge that research-active Trusts have better patient outcomes and are more attractive as an employer.” 

Each member of staff taking part in the fellowship scheme is provided with a mentor and regular access to a senior clinical expert and quality improvement lead within the hospital Trust to help them. They are also given two days a week for six months to focus on the research work.

Douglas Graham, CEO of Oxford Hospitals Charity, which is funding the scheme, said:

“Our charity is here to make a difference for patients and staff across Oxford University Hospitals, so this scheme - which empowers hospital staff to research new ways to improve and solve problems - is something we are delighted to support.

“It’s been great to meet the first starters today and hear about the projects they will be focussing on over the next six months. I can’t wait to learn what improvements they come forward with and am sure there will be real and lasting impact from their research work.”

 Rachel Duke, a practice development sister in Acute Medicine, is one of the first members of staff taking part in the scheme.

She will be focussing on how to reduce hospital-acquired pressure ulcers, and hopes that having the opportunity to invest time to look at new methods will bring benefit to staff and patients across the whole Trust. She explained:

‘Pressure ulcers, which often affect our older and frailer patients, can be painful, they  increase the risk of infection, can reduce mobility and lengthen the patient’s stay in hospital. I am delighted that through this scheme I will have the time to look at new ways to help reduce this problem, and bring nursing teams together to share evidence and ideas.”

Aroma Mujahid, a nutrition pharmacist at the Trust will be focussing on supporting better intravenous nutrition for vulnerable patients, including those with bowel disease, Crohn’s or who have had bowel tumours removed. She said:

‘I am really looking forward to starting this work as there has been very little research done into this area, so it feels like a real opportunity to make a difference. On a personal level it is also a huge chance to progress my knowledge and experience.  I am very grateful to the charity for their support of the new scheme.’

Other research projects are focussing on preventing falls in hospital, the Trust’s scheme to measure quality of care in clinical areas and the maternity assessment pathway.

Oxford Hospitals Charity provides additional support across Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – creating more comfortable and welcoming spaces for patients of all ages, funding specialist high-tech medical equipment and supporting the wellbeing of hospital staff. The charity also funds specialist research and training  to enhance and improve the hospitals – all thanks to the generosity of the Oxfordshire community.

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