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Case study: Children’s Emergency Department award winning supporters of research

The Research Support Awards 2022 has launched and we hear from one of last year’s winners about how they support research activity within their Trust.

The Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital is part of University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust and the team from the emergency department was nominated by research nurse Vivien Richmond. Vivien praised the amount of research activity achieved by clinical staff in a busy children’s emergency department, right across the board from the consultants, to the ward managers and staff nurses.

“Working together with the Children’s Emergency Department has been a dream,” said Vivien. “They represent the true gold standard of how research can really work within a busy clinical area! We can’t thank them enough for all their support. From the start, they helped us assess what we need to achieve, plan and streamline our processes within protocols, implement them and make things simple, evaluating what works for them and reviewing any changes that had to be made. The ‘can do’ attitude of all the team has made our jobs as research nurses easy . The number of phone calls we receive, screening patients for studies in the daytime is unbelievable considering their workload.”

Dr Emily Walton, Consultant in Paediatric Emergency Medicine and Clinical Lead for the Children’s Emergency Department said: “We were delighted that the research work of our Children’s Emergency Department was acknowledged with the prize from NIHR Clinical Research Network Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

“Improving the treatment of sick and injured children when they first come to hospital is obviously really important, but there are lots of challenges to conducting research in busy emergency departments , so it’s an area that has been a bit neglected in the past. Here at the Royal Alex Children’s Emergency Department we think it’s important to play a role in helping to change this. That’s why we work hard to prioritise research alongside our direct clinical care of patients. We are proud to offer as many of our young patients and their families as possible the opportunity to get involved with research to improve care for other children in emergency departments in the future.

“We do this by maintaining awareness of active research studies in the department. We have a huge research board with details of studies and discuss them at handovers and huddles. We celebrate successes in recruitment at our team meetings and through ‘greatix’ type awards. We have close links with our fantastic research nurses and work with them to streamline study processes and create clear easy to use proformas and recruitment tools that are simple to use on the busy shop floor of the Emergency Department. We ensure results of completed trials we have participated in are cascaded to all medical and nursing staff at our team meetings and through email learning bulletins – so that our day-to-day research activity feels like it has a purpose.

“The timing of the award was particularly welcome as we, along with emergency departments across the country, face unprecedented pressures due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic. It was a much needed boost to staff morale and we are using the financial prize to fund team development days for the Children’s Emergency Department nursing and medical workforce.”