Jane Greenaway, associate director of the Durham Tees Valley Research Alliance, shares some of her experiences following the outbreak of COVID-19.
As she reflects over the work of the team over the last few months, read about the incredible impact it had on the whole team and the way they are regarded by both colleagues and the community.
Research teams have always worked tirelessly, often in the background to ensure patients have opportunities to take part in trials that will contribute to the evidence base of “what works”.
Shouting up occasionally to tell everyone how important it is , how it should be at the heart of what we do, how it informs the best patient care, how it’s interesting and above all how our patients have the right to expect that we do it.
However it’s always felt a little like the “Cinderella” discipline within trusts. We know it’s a good thing, we know we “should” but people sometimes don’t really understand it, or may be afraid of it or simply feel they just don’t have the time.
COVID changed all of that from my perspective.
Suddenly the work that myself and my teams have been doing for decades was catapulted into the spotlight in the fight against COVID-19.
Nobody knew how to treat this so the only solution to this was a wholehearted commitment to supporting the COVID research studies and treatment trials.
COVID -19 did more to advance knowledge and awareness of the benefits of research in a few weeks than we’d managed to do in more than 10 years of sustained internal promotion!Jane Greenaway, associate director of the Durham Tees Valley Research Alliance
- It has been one of the most challenging experiences in both my professional career and personal life. Like everyone working in the NHS you’re juggling a demanding job in unprecedented circumstances ensuring your team are supported, you’re following national and local guidelines that sometimes changed almost daily.
- You’re then trying to manage all of the new elements in your non-work life – ensuring parents and in-laws are supported and looked after, teenage sons feel safe and are on top of school work, food shopping was a significant angst- inducing activity too!
- I’m a little ashamed to admit it but initially I felt a little envious of people who were working from home or furloughed and able to stay at home safely with their families.
- However as the weeks progressed I became thankful of the chance to come to work outside of the home, interact with and show support for my colleagues and feel as if I was contributing to some really impactful research.
I have been astounded by the flexibility and resilience shown by the research team in the Trust.
The team working has been second to none with everyone contributing wherever necessary, working out of hours to ensure those patients have the same opportunity to be recruited. I think the team is significantly stronger for the experience and there will be long lasting effects on the way we work in future.
Engagement from colleagues across the trust in supporting research – clinical and nursing staff who were previously not involved in research or even unaware were offering their support to our teams.Jane Greenaway, associate director of the Durham Tees Valley Research Alliance
By the support from senior leaders, exec and trust board. Unlike a lot of other trusts our management teams did not request any redeployment of research nursing staff into clinical areas, recognition of the vital contribution being made by them to the COVID research effort which would ultimately benefit all patients.
- Working in research can be frustrating as sometimes you’re working on studies that originate elsewhere and you don’t see the final results or impact for years – waiting for data to be collected over many years, then analysed and finally written up into a published paper.
- During the pandemic we saw rapid real time analysis of data, changes to protocols and recommendations for treatment being made at breakneck speed.
- Nationally we need to learn from this to try to remove some of the unnecessary bureaucracy that slows down research and embrace new ways of working that encourage rapid dissemination of research findings.
As we reflect on what we did, how we did it, lessons learned and how we might do things differently in the event of a second surge, I am left with one over-riding emotion and that’s one of incredible pride in the entire research team and their efforts during the pandemic.Full list of Trust vacancies