ACORN (Addressing Capacity in Organisations to do Research) is part of the NIHR Y&H ARC (Research Capacity Building cross cutting theme) and is a community of practice to support the development of innovative research capacity building within the NHS and across the wider care provider organisations affiliated with the Y&H ARC. The key focus is to support research career pathways for Nurses, Midwives, Allied Health Professionals (NMAHPs), Healthcare Scientists (HCS) and Pharmacists (within and close to practice by raising research awareness (from individual to exec level). Members will collaborate on developing and supporting research delivery, research careers and wider clinical academic activity. The collective learning will be shared at regional and national level to help inform future policy and activity around research capacity building. The group will work closely with the Local Authority Research Collaborative, sharing developments and opportunities around research capacity building.

Aims of ACORN

  • Support NMAHPs, HCS and Pharmacists to become involved in research activity
  • Capture the increased involvement of NMAHPs, HCS and Pharmacists involvement (annually)
  • Lead and influence on good practice around research capacity building, sharing examples of career pathways (workforce) including job descriptions and supporting structures specifically clinical academic pathways for Nurses, Midwives and Allied Health Professionals (NMAHPs)
  • Capture the number of roles active in research (annually)
  • Promote skills in individuals to engage, deliver and to develop research ability
  • Promote and support educational activity which builds research capacity (beyond research delivery). Help share and identify gaps in education provision, sharing local developments/ resolutions.
  • Share educational attendance and activity (annually)
  • Promote and support specific funded fellowship applications
  • Capture the number of applications, buddying, collaborative support (annually)
  • Develop and support processes in organisations to deliver research within NHS organisations and across healthcare systems (hardwire research into organisations)
  • Support research networks, academic linkages and make best use of research infrastructure
  • Capture research partnerships (annually)
  • Maximise and recognise impact of conducting research
  • Promote and capture the use of the Victor tool within organisations
  • Increase Principal Investigator numbers within NMAHPs, HCS and Pharmacists
  • Explore linkages with the wider health and social care system to develop research activity e.g. Academic Health Science Network (AHSN), Y&H Improvement Academy (IA), NIHR Academy
  • Connect with the research activity within the Y&H ARC (specific themes) to understand and maximise on the opportunities for research capacity building
  • Share best practice, dedicating time to learning lessons and spreading innovative approaches
  • Provide a forum for activity to be shared with wider Y&H ARC members and wider partners

ACORN Members

Judith is Head of Research at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, leading a team responsible for research delivery, quality and governance. She works with a range of partners to deliver high quality research opportunities to improve patient care and population health.

She Chairs the Wakefield Research Hub, a place-based collaborative partnership with a vision to deliver high quality research that responds to the needs of people in Wakefield, delivered by a flexible, responsive multidisciplinary workforce that are excellent and innovative at what they do. She has been involved in a number of projects working across the system in Wakefield including “Changing the culture: a qualitative study exploring research capacity in local government” (10.1186/s12889-022-13758-w ) and “Learning from the challenges of undertaking an evaluation of a multi-partner housing support initiative delivered within a hospital setting” (10.1016/j.puhip.2022.100333). She is Principal Investigator for Born and Bred in (Babi) Wakefield, a longitudinal linked data, birth cohort study.

As the Trust’s Sponsor representative, Judith has been a member of several research steering groups, including MotiVar: “Motivating weight loss through a personalised avatar” and “Point of care creatinine testing in diagnostic imaging”. In 2020/2021 she had a leading role within the “Wakefield Together” partnership to deliver AstraZeneca’s global COVID-19 antibody trial. The team recruited the first global participant and won the Pharma Times International Clinical Site Team of the year award in 2021.

Between 2018 and 2020 she was seconded to work part time alongside her Trust role, as a Research Impact Fellow with NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care Yorkshire and Humber (CLAHRC YH), to develop the VICTOR research impact tool which helps to identify and make visible the impacts of undertaking research in the NHS (Organisational Benefits of Undertaking Research in Healthcare 10.1186/s13104-023-06526-5).

Julie Bury is a Research Fellow at Doncaster & Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals. Her role is to support research capacity building and raise awareness of clinical academic career opportunities​ for nursing, midwifery and AHPs. She is currently a HEE/NIHR Clinical Doctoral Research Fellow.

Nicki is an expert on Dysfunctional Breathing (DB) and the creator of BreathWorks, the UK’s first clinic for paediatric patients with DB. Nicki is also a key member of the Sheffield paediatric complex asthma service and presents at events in the UK and Europe. Her other responsibilities include being a member of the Research and Innovation Board and Clinical Research Steering Group at SCH.

Nicki’s current research priorities are into the efficacy of physiotherapy for children with DB, developing a tool for the early identification of DB and the development of medical technology to aid diagnosis and treatment of respiratory conditions. She promotes research activity in AHP’s and actively supports clinical colleagues at all stages of their research journey. She also supervises PhD students from neighbouring Sheffield Hallam University and fosters collaborations between academic and clinical institutions.

Jane works in a clinical academic role between Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS FT and the University of Sheffield, Health Sciences School, Division of Nursing and Midwifery.

In Jane’s NHS role, she is currently half way through a 3 year NIHR funded programme known as the 70@70 Senior Nurse and Midwife Leadership Programme.  This 2-day week role is focussed on developing research capacity and capability amongst nurses.  It also seeks to inform the NIHR of clinical research priorities.  Jane works in a variety of ways to help nurses to understand their role in research and supports nurses wanting to develop clinical academic careers.

Lydia is the Head of R&D at York Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and has worked in clinical research since 2001. She worked for National Institute for Clinical Research in London for 7 years, before working a year at CRUK, before moving into the NHS at the Royal Brompton in 2009. Since then she has worked in several NHS clinical research offices in a variety of management roles.

 Lydia’s roles have all been around the facilitation and supporting of research at all levels in the NHS, she works to increase the capacity and capability of delivering research in an NHS environment and to raise its profile locally and nationally. 

Fiona has worked at Yorkshire Ambulance Service since 2015, first as the Research and Development manager and now leading a team of research paramedics and researchers in the development and delivery of high quality ambulance care research. Before joining the ambulance service she completed a PhD in microbiology, worked in commercial skin research and held roles at the NIHR Clinical Research Network.

At YAS she has responsibility for research governance and delivery, also acting as co-investigator on a number of projects in staff wellbeing and pre-hospital care.  Fiona is keen to support the growth of paramedicine research, through supporting the development of paramedic clinical academics. 

Denise, is head of healthcare professions academic development at the Leeds teaching hospitals NHS Trust.  She is a physiotherapist by background and has spent most of her working life in the acute hospital setting.  She now sits within the R&I team and is driven to embed research into ‘usual’ health, care and rehabilitation practice to enable us to know we are providing the best care possible for our patients. She am also working hard to develop a clinical academic career pathway for her staff, from post grad to professor, or band 5 to band 8 plus.

Sarah is Head of Research and Development at LYPFT a post she has held since 2021. This involves leading the Research department and core research team of approximately 25 staff. The department has oversight of all research happening within the Trust. They have an ambitious three-year strategy that includes an aim to embed research as core business within the organisation. 

Before working for the Trust Sarah worked for the NIHR Clinical Research Network latterly as a Business Development Manager (Commercial). She facilitated key discussions between industry and Clinical Research Network and was a point of contact for life sciences companies engaging with the Clinical Research Network. Her first role with the network was to support the national clinical leads across a range of therapeutic areas.

Prior to working with the network Sarah worked as a Clinical Researcher for over 10 years delivering a range of studies in both community and hospital settings. She has several peer reviewed published articles. She has a degree in Medical Biochemistry, master’s in Human Nutrition and PhD in Clinical Nutrition.

Tracy has worked at the Trust as Research Nurse for over 20 years and now oversees the research delivery and governance team as R&D Lead across two hospital sites and community hubs. Tracy has extensive experience in cancer trials, with specialist knowledge in industry led studies. More recently she has supported the surgical research portfolio and implemented urgent public health COVID19 research at site, developing processes to enable rapid recruitment and delivery across several ward areas and training for clinical staff. She has developed several in-house training and development initiatives that have led to improved research team skills and efficiency. Tracy facilitated GCP training for the NIHR for over 12 years and rolled out the Principal Investigator (PI) Masterclass in Yorkshire & Humber CRN.  In 2020, Tracy led her team to become winners of the Nursing Times Clinical Research Award in recognition for their response in the delivery of COVID19 research, demonstrating innovative practice to engage and support research naïve clinicians leading to high levels of performance and patient recruitment.  She holds a BSc (Hons) in Professional studies and completed the NHS Mary Seacole Leadership course. Tracy is passionate about research and believes that all patients should be given the opportunity to participate.

For any further information about the ACORN group please contact Sam Debbage