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ARC Wessex Director share lead National Nursing role

Professor Alison Richardson presenting at the launch of ARC Wessex

England’s Chief Nursing Officer, Ruth May, has appointed Professor Alison Richardson as Head of Nursing Research, Academic Leadership and Strategy, as part of a new nursing research strategy ambition for England.

Professor Richardson is an internationally renowned Clinical Professor in Cancer Nursing and End of Life Care at the University of Southampton and University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust. She combines research with clinical practice to focus on understanding and responding to the needs of people affected by cancer and other life-limiting illnesses.

In her new role, Professor Richardson will work closely with Dr Jo Cooper, recently appointed by Ruth May as the new Head of Nursing Research, Research Transformation, in leading on the development of the Chief Nursing Officer’s research strategy.

“I am really pleased to be joining the Chief Nursing Officer’s senior professional nursing team, working with Dr Jo Cooper to translate Ruth May’s vision that nursing research and evidence underpin policy and system transformation,” said Professor Richardson. “I am looking forward to working with colleagues from across all parts of the health and care system to strengthen the contribution of nursing research in nursing practice, professional decision making and policy.

“Collaboration between health and care organisations and universities, between nursing teams, research nurses and nurse academics will be crucial as we continue to build research capacity and capability,” Professor Richardson. “There is much more that nursing research can do to improve outcomes for people using health and social care services and I am thoroughly committed to working with colleagues to bring this about.”

Ruth May said: “I am very pleased to welcome Jo and Alison to the team. Within our professions we have specialists in research, data and science, as well as clinical specialists. These new posts flag the very significant work that goes on in nursing research – some of this highlighted during the first wave of the pandemic this year – and much more it can yet deliver.”

An accomplished nurse academic and significant research leader, Professor Richardson is a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Senior Investigator and Director of both the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) Wessex and the Southampton Academy of Research (SoAR). SoAR supports the career development of Southampton's health-related research workforce, and works across the University’s Faculty of Medicine, School of Health Sciences and University Hospital Southampton.

Professor Richardson has a track record of leading research teams that have generated new insights and translated those into direct patient benefit. Her skills and experience have successfully built an environment and infrastructure at Southampton, creating an interface between the University and Trust, building research capacity and capability in the profession across academic and practice partnership focussed on enabling a future generation of clinical academic nurses to flourish.

In taking up this new appointment, she will continue her roles at the University, Trust and NIHR ARC Wessex.

Anthea Mould, Director Workforce Learning and Organisational Development for the National Institute of Health Research CRN, said: “NIHR are delighted by this landmark appointment with the NHSE/I Chief Nurses senior professional team . Alison is an NIHR Senior Investigator and brings a wealth and breadth of expertise in research and clinical leadership across the system. At a time when the importance of research has never been more visible to patients, public and the professions, the NIHR Nursing Office looks forward to working collectively with Alison and colleagues to realise research benefit through transforming practice, health and care.”

Dr Katerina Kolyva, Executive Director, Council of Deans of Health, said:  “We are delighted that Alison will be leading NHS England’s research portfolio and look forward to working closely with her on this. Alison has been a strong and valued advocate for clinical academic and academic research careers within our membership and in wider conversations across the sector. Building on the progress that has already been made, we will work with Alison to raise the profile of research across the country and enable more nurses to become research leaders”.

Gail Byrne, Director of Nursing and Organisational Development at University Hospital Southampton NHS FT said: “Being part of Ruth May’s senior team in this new  role of Head of Nursing Research, Academic Leadership and Strategy is a fantastic opportunity for Alison and it is well deserved. Alison has done so much here at University Hospital Southampton to promote and embed nursing research and given her passion, leadership and commitment I have no doubt that she will make a difference in translating nursing research so that it has a positive impact for patients and the wider community.”

Mandy Fader, Head of Health Sciences, University of Southampton, said: “I am thrilled Alison will be taking up this prestigious role within the Chief Nurse’s senior professional team.  Alison brings outstanding experience and skills from diverse leadership positions, including our world-leading cancer research team and the Southampton hosted NIHR Applied Research Collaboration Wessex. This national position will further raise the profile and calibre of the excellent nursing research the UK is known for, and with Alison’s enthusiasm and skills will make important differences to patient care.”

Nurse-led practice has been at the centre of the national COVID-19 response and the learning and experiences from this will also build on significant work already underway. The national portfolio of nursing research features a collection of studies that demonstrate the impact and contribution that nursing, midwifery and care staff can make to transforming health and care.