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Professor Dame Caroline Watkins

Professor of Stroke and Older People's Care, Faculty of Health and Care Director of Research and Enterprise
School of Nursing

Caroline is one of only two UK nursing professors of stroke care and leads the internationally renowned Stroke Research Team; Director of Lancashire Clinical Trials Unit (CTU); Director of UCLan Research Institute For Global hEalth and Wellbeing – LIFE; Implementation Lead/Deputy Director for NIHR Applied Research Collaboration North West Coast (NIHR ARC NWC) and Honorary Stroke Nurse Consultant at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

At the University Caroline is Director of Research and Enterprise for Faculty of Health and Care and has established Research Support Team (RST) and Health and wellbeing Research Methodology and Implementation (HeRMI) Hub to improve capacity and capability for research, as well as providing a mechanism for developing researchers. Caroline is Implementation Lead/Deputy Director for NIHR ARC NWC, demonstrating her formation of robust partnerships for implementation research to reduce health inequalities. Caroline contributes to substantial programmatic research and is Director of the UK's Lancashire Clinical Trials Unit which is leading a number of large UK and global stroke studies and has recently obtained provisional UKCRC Registration status.

Caroline heads the largest nurse-led stroke research unit, with a multidisciplinary team of researchers, with close clinical and academic links, and an extensive portfolio of pure and applied research. Caroline is acknowledged for developing and promoting high quality robust research which informs UK policy, guidelines and care, and has subsequently been adopted across the world including: being a key player in initiating the FAST campaign, introducing prehospital care into national stroke guidelines, working alongside clinicians, patients, carers and the public in streamlining stroke pathways, and considering priorities for long-term care. Caroline has led the development of the Stroke-Specific Education Framework (SSEF), which, through supporting and guiding workforce development, facilitates the delivery of quality stroke care. Caroline has a longstanding partnership with Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (LTHTR) and has named LTHTR as linked NHS organisation when she has gained her first NIHR Senior Investigator award. NIHR Senior Investigators, which come from all areas of clinical research, are judged by a panel of international research experts to be the most outstanding leaders of patient and people-based research in the UK. Caroline is honoured to be one of the few nurses to gain this award on two separate occasions (2009 and 2016) with continuing NIHR Senior Investigator Emeritus status in 2020. In 2016 Caroline received a ‘Life After Stroke Special Recognition Award’ by UK's The Stroke Association for contributions to improving the lives of stroke survivors through better stroke care and research. She is currently Chair of UK Stroke Forum (UKSF). Caroline was recognised for services to Nursing and Older People’s Care in 2017 New Year Honours with the award of Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE).

  • PhD, University of Liverpool, Thesis title: The Effects of Patient's Expectations on the Rehabilitation Process, 1990-1999
  • BA (Hons), Psychology, Class 2:1 & Wandecza Dubicki Prize for Research, 1986-1990
  • State Registered Nurse, South Sefton Health Authority, 1977-1980
  • Certificate in Social Care, 1988-1989
  • Further Education Teaching Certificate, 1985-1986
  • Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) 2017
  • The Guardian University Awards 2017
  • Life After Stroke Award, The Stroke Association 2016
  • Stroke assessment and management
  • Psychological adjustment
  • Depression; Continence; Swallowing
  • Functional recovery
  • Emergency Pathways
  • User involvement and needs assessment.
  • Fellow, Higher Education Academy (FHEA)
  • Fellow, European Stroke Organisation (FESO)
  • Chair, UK Stroke Forum (UKSF)
  • Joint Lead, World Stroke Organisation/European Stroke Organisation (WSO/ESO) Nursing and AHP Sub-Committee
  • Member, Conference Planning Group, 7th European Stroke Organisation Conference (ESOC 2021)
  • Member and Steering Group, National Stroke Nursing Forum (NSNF)
  • Member, European Stroke Organisation and World Stroke Organisation (ESO and WSO)
  • Member, American Heart Association (AHA)
  • Member, World Federation for NeuroRehabilitation (WFNR)
  • Member, Royal Statistical Society (RSS)
  • Member, OPSYRIS (Organisation for Psychological Research into Stroke)
  • Member, International Stroke Rehabilitation and Recovery Alliance (ISRRA)
  • Member, Royal College of Nursing (RCN)
  • Member, UK Swallowing Research Group Committee
  • Member, Workforce Group, National Stroke Plan
  • Member, International Scientific Advisory Committee for NIHR Global Health Research Group on Atrial Fibrillation Management
  • Member, National Stroke Workforce Working Group
  • Member, Council on Cardiovascular Nursing and Allied Professions (CCNAP)
  • Member, Lancashire Neuroscience Forum
  • Honorary Overseas Life Member, Stroke Society of Australasia