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Case study: Meet The CRN WM Team - Natalie Hibell

Natalie's Story

My role as a Senior Research Facilitator involves leading a skilled, diverse team who set up, support and deliver clinical research in Primary Care settings. 

At any one time we have 70 studies open to recruitment in the West Midlands (30 in set up) and I lead on a number of these studies. I am responsible for overseeing the delivery of the clinical research Portfolio, assessing new projects, budget management, reviewing and ensuring processes, risk assessments for patient safety and quality management, staff competencies, and I review training and skills programmes for my team.

I started my journey in research in 2002 as a personal assistant to the Director of the Clinical Research Network with the opportunity to train as an Assistant Health Informatics Specialist, which I absolutely loved. This role was in its infancy and the Clinical Research Network only looked after five local GP practices at this time. I visited practices daily to download data required for study teams at Keele University onto a floppy disk and back in the office would manually check the data and reformat to ensure it was appropriately formatted for our research studies. 

During the pandemic in 2020 I was redeployed to work in a secondary care setting as an Admin Lead working with a large team on a fast-paced urgent Public Health COVID-19 study researching the Novavax vaccine; this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I knew instantly that I wanted to develop as a leader. 

It is a real privilege working with such a great team to help, support and encourage GP practices in Primary Care to do research in their clinical settings. This offers patients the opportunity to take part in research – whether it is patients who have benefited from life-changing treatments, or those who are willing to contribute their precious time so we can better understand certain conditions - it is incredibly rewarding.