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Research nurses playing a pivotal role in response to COVID-19

Research nurses playing a pivotal role in response to COVID-19

A Director for Research and Innovation at a large south London hospital trust has described the pivotal role nurses are playing in the response to COVID-19.

Ann-Marie Murtagh is the Director of Research and Innovation and Head of Nursing for Research at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. She is also a qualified nurse, having trained at Epsom Hospital, and proudly states that she never considered another career. Here, she discusses how nurses are essential to the response to COVID-19.

Speaking on International Nurses’ Day, which recognises the contribution nurses make to society, she explained how National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) clinical trials, which are supported by CRN South London, play a vital role in improving all aspects of patient care. She said: 

“Research is – and always has been – key to the progression of medicine and health care. Whether you’re working on a small, interventional trial where an experimental drug is being given to a handful of patients, or you are taking blood samples to be entered into a global genomic database, as a research nurse you are crucial to the success of a study which could have life-changing or life-saving consequences for patients in the future.” 

She then went on to discuss the importance of nurses in society, stating: 

“This year’s International Nurses’ Day is a particularly special one. Although nurses play a pivotal role in patient health and wellbeing every day, it’s during challenging times like these that the importance of nurses in our hospitals, healthcare centres and within the community is really brought to the fore.

“You can probably see and hear the gratitude that people have for the work that nurses and other frontline workers do at 8pm every Thursday! So, on International Nurses’ Day, I’d say be proud to be a nurse and know that you are appreciated – every day – by people all around the world.”

Ann-Marie is supporting the front line response by working as a general nurse on Guthrie Ward - a once-private ward that has now been transformed into a ward for patients with suspected COVID-19 - at King’s College Hospital alongside her normal duties. She explained:

“I was able to carry on in my research role – as research is one of the four pillars of the Government’s COVID-19 response strategy - as well as working as a general nurse on Guthrie Ward.

“I was apprehensive about going back to front line nursing and was grateful for the refresher training sessions provided by the trust. After a couple of shifts, and huge support from the regular ward staff, I now thoroughly look forward to my clinical long days and hope to find a way to incorporate some hands on clinical time within my job plan when things return to normal.”

CRN South London’s Workforce Development Lead Nhlanhla Mguni said: “I’d like to thank nurses, midwives and practitioners across south London for their work in supporting vital COVID-19 research.

“Nurses, midwives and practitioners have an unparalleled contribution to make to clinical research. They are champions for driving innovation and informing research priorities within their organisations.

“Thank you for everything you are doing to support the national response to COVID-19 in south London.”