Stroke experts receive research recognition

20 May 2020

UCLan and Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust join forces to recognise the contributions being made to the county’s stroke care

Two of Lancashire’s stroke experts are being recognised by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (LTHTR).

In a joint appointment by the two institutions, Dr Liz Lightbody has been selected as a Professor of Stroke Care and Improvement while UCLan’s Professor Dame Caroline Watkins is being made an honorary stroke nurse consultant at LTHTR.

The academics will work with the Trust’s team to transform stroke services in Lancashire through identifying, developing, and evaluating, technology enhanced solutions to provide more efficient and cost-effective care.

Professor Lightbody, who has been an active researcher for more than 20 years, said: “This professorial position is my ideal job, as I am passionate about improving the care for stroke patients and their families, through improved processes of care, development of novel interventions and developing the skills and capability within the workforce.

“I believe there is a true drive between the organisations to improve stroke service delivery through improvement science and research and I think this aligns well with my focus on applied health research, service improvement and implementation.

“The professorial position will provide the opportunity to develop and mentor a team of researchers, who will facilitate further programmatic research in stroke care, that will not only inform care locally, but influence national and global policy.”

Professor Watkins has a longstanding partnership with the Trust. The close working relationship has led to LTHTR gaining substantial National Institute for Health Research funding thanks to Professor Watkins’ research being attached to the Trust. Recently she was made a National Institute for Health Research Senior Investigator Emeritus, having been one of the few nurses to gain two awards.

"We are delighted to be working collaboratively with our colleagues at UCLan and bringing together leading edge researchers with our clinicians to co-design a world class stroke service for our patients."

She wants to ensure improvements and innovations are identified and driven, not only utilising robust evidence-based approaches, but reflecting the needs and wishes of staff, patients and carers in the spirit of true and meaningful engagement.

“I’m absolutely delighted to receive this prestigious honorary position,” said Professor Watkins. “It will further cement the working partnership we have, allowing even closer working to develop and deliver world-class stroke services here in Lancashire.”

Sarah Cullen, Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Director, and Professor Ailsa Brotherton, Director of Continuous Improvement at LTHTR, congratulate Professor Watkins and Professor Lightbody.

Sarah Cullen commented: “We are delighted to be working collaboratively with our colleagues at UCLan and bringing together leading edge researchers with our clinicians to co-design a world class stroke service for our patients. We are developing an ambitious, clinically led stroke strategy and are delighted that our teams have recently achieved improvements in the Sentinel Stroke National Audit Programme.”

Dr. Ailsa Brotherton, who was recently awarded an honorary professorship in the Faculty of Health and Wellbeing at UCLan, said: “We are extremely privileged at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals to be working so closely with two professors from one of the UK’s leading stroke nursing research teams. Across Lancashire and South Cumbria we are working together in a Stroke Improvement programme to learn from each other across the network. We highly value the opportunity to connect research, education, improvement and innovation to deliver breakthrough levels of improvement for our stroke patients.”

Paul Brown, Head of Research and Innovation at the Trust, has been pivotal to establishing the collaboration. He commented: “It’s great to be able to announce these important appointments on International Clinical Trials Day. We are excited to be working together to deliver our ambitious research strategy. This is a model of working that we are keen to replicate in other clinical specialities to maximise the benefits we deliver for patients as we increase our research studies and clinical trials.”