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North East nurse and midwife appointed Senior Research Leaders as part of new NIHR programme

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) has launched a new Senior Research Leader Programme for nurses and midwives, building on the success of the 70@70 Senior Nurse and Midwife Leaders programme which concluded in March 2022.

The 70@70 programme implemented over 300 different research initiatives and reached at least 3000 nurses and midwives. It increased the support, delivery and leadership of research by nurses and midwives across different parts of the health and care delivery system. It resulted in closer working between clinical academics, and lead research delivery nurses and midwives. Additionally, it helped to meet the nursing and midwifery research leadership needs of individual NHS organisations.

The aim of the new three-year programme is to:

  • Promote the importance of a vibrant integrated research culture to improve care quality of health outcomes
  • Realise the untapped potential of many more senior nurses and midwives
  • Empower the Senior Research Leaders (SRLs) to further increase research capacity and capability
  • Support the development of the SRLs as future research leaders
  • Identify research priorities that relate to frontline nursing and midwifery practice issues

As SRLs, they will receive funding through the NIHR to be seconded for two days a week over three years to allow them to build on their leadership skills in research. They will learn how to use their strategic experience to drive transformation within the NIHR and wider healthcare landscape, ensuring they have dedicated time to share their learnings across organisations and the wider NHS. They will also actively link with the wider work of the NIHR to contribute to its future development including that of future research leaders within the NIHR Academy.

As a result of the programme, they will become proactive champions for developing nurse and midwife research capacity and capability through supporting an integrated research delivery culture by encouraging research collaborations and the interdisciplinary sharing of research knowledge and skills throughout their care setting.

The SRLs will be able to utilise their research leadership and expand their networking skills at a local, regional and national level in a variety of healthcare settings in order to lead and influence changes in nursing and midwifery research practice and be committed to embedding and pioneering a vibrant, equitable, sustainable and inclusive research active culture and practices amongst nurses and midwives within their organisations and beyond.

From the North East North Cumbria (NENC) region, Sarah Daniel and Fiona Yelnoorkar are two of thirty-five nurses and midwives recruited nationally for the first cohort of the programme running from April 2023 until March 2026.

Sarah Daniel, Head of Research at Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust said:

I’m really proud to be selected as one of the 36 NIHR Senior Research Leaders for Nursing and Midwifery in England. My vision is for all nurses to feel that research is part of their day to day work, and to be enthused and excited by the opportunities this brings to improve patient care.

I will be working alongside nurses in our mental health and learning disability Trust, our local university partners, and other key stakeholders to understand barriers and facilitators to becoming involved in research, and developing and embedding new initiatives for research engagement at all levels.

Working as part of a regional and national network of Senior Research Leaders will provide an effective forum for key learning and sharing best practice across the country.

Fiona Yelnoorkar, Research Matron at Directorate of Clinical Research at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said:

I am extremely proud to have been selected to join the 2023 cohort of the NIHR Senior Research Leadership programme. This unique opportunity to represent the research delivery workforce will enable me to drive forward strategic vision and necessary change to promote, develop and integrate the essential role of the Research Midwife and Nurse.

This programme will support me to continue to work as a senior leader within my organisation and the wider specialty area of Reproductive Health and Childbirth in the region by providing me with the necessary time and the valuable tools required to achieve the ambition of our priorities.

Morag Burton, Chief Operating Officer at NIHR Local Clinical Research Network NENC said:

Research-active organisations achieve better clinical outcomes for patients and service users. This programme will place nurses and midwives - the professions with the most contact with patients and the public - at the forefront of healthcare research, allowing them to shape research culture within their organisations and at a national level as well as raise their profile and affirm their sustained value and contribution to the wider research community.

To find out more about what the NIHR are doing to inspire nurses and midwives to improve health outcomes through research please visit