Dr Polly Livermore is GOSH’s first nurse to receive post-doctoral fellowship

6 Feb 2023, 4:08 p.m.

A woman smiling at the camera with curly ginger hair

Children's nurse and Clinical Matron Dr Polly Livermore awarded GOSH's first NIHR Advanced Clinical and Practitioner Academic Fellowship (ACAF) - she is our first nurse to receive a postdoctoral fellowship of any kind.

Dr Livermore wears many hats at GOSH – she is the NIHR GOSH Biomedical Research Centre Clinical Academic Programme Lead in the Centre for Outcomes and Experience Research in Child Health, Illness and Disability (ORCHID) and Clinical Matron in Blood Cells and Cancer at GOSH - and she is no stranger to leading the way in research. She was previously the first children’s nurse non-medic at GOSH to be awarded an NIHR clinical doctoral research fellowship, which she finished in 2021. In her role she has stewarded many GOSH staff through the ORCHID research internship and supported many healthcare professionals along the NIHR Integrated Clinical and Practitioner Academic (ICA) Programme.

The Advanced Clinical and practitioner Academic Fellowship (ACAF) is part of the ICA Programme. It supports post-doctoral researchers to develop their academic career whilst developing their health or care career. It is open to post-doctoral researchers from the health and care professions (excluding doctors and dentists) who are committed to a clinical academic or practitioner academic career and Dr Livermore has become GOSH’s first nurse awardee.

These awards are highly competitive, with only two nurses UK wide applying for this round.

Dr Livermore was awarded £606,000 through this funding, for a three-year project to support children and young people with rheumatological conditions and their families.

I am delighted to be awarded a NIHR post-doctoral fellowship. I would like to thank everyone who has helped me get this far, including everyone in ORCHID

Dr Polly Livermore

The type of grant that Polly has secured is extremely competitive and attracts exceptionally high calibre applicants, so her success is a tremendous endorsement of her academic excellence, following the success of her PhD. Polly is an ambassador for research and is committed that her research directly improves outcomes for patients and families. As part of our strategy to support a wider range of professionals develop their career in research at GOSH, it’s wonderful to see this recognition, signalling an exciting future, particularly for nursing research. Polly is a wonderful role model for all staff endeavouring to support our goal of making GOSH a true Research Hospital and we’re really looking forward to working with her and seeing the outcome of her work.

Dr Jenny Rivers, Deputy Director of Research & Innovation at GOSH

Rheumatological disease and mental health

Children and young people diagnosed with rheumatological conditions are known to have high psychological burden and mental health implications, because of their chronic condition and intensive treatments. In addition, there is insufficient, timely psychological support available to child and young people in the UK. This means that families and carers must provide the majority of the everyday emotional reassurance these children and adolescents need.

From preliminary work with children and their parents, it became clear that parents and carers needed further support to help their child or young person live with a chronic disease. Offering an intervention 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week, between appointments and even on holiday, would ensure that families have access to clinically relevant and regulated information and are better supported to help their child, but it not always realistic to have access to an in-person service around the clock.

Innovation and technology towards better patient experience

Hospital School - Close up of mac book screen on ward

The purpose of this newly-funded study is to create a digital intervention, working with GOSH DRIVE, that can guide parents and carers to support their child or young person at home. This service will be a disease-specific ‘Intelligent Virtual Assistant’ that families can access on a device at home, that can teach them about their condition(s) and give them ideas to help support their child or young person.

The service will offer a new and innovative way of supporting patients and their care-system, which has not been done before in this way in the NHS. The team hope to develop ‘persuasive argument roleplay’ – a key feature where adults can practice difficult conversations regarding challenging aspects for young people living with a chronic condition. For example, when important medicine must be taken but has unpleasant side-effects, when exercises must be done every day, how to prepare for injections into the joints of the body and even when alcohol must not be drunk due to certain medications.

This will provide the first targeted, empowering intervention, specifically for parents and carers of children and young people with rheumatological conditions, designed and developed with end-users.

Findings will be shared through patient and public events, conferences, and publications and the project hopes to strengthen guardians’ understanding, knowledge, and control of disease or treatment events, empowering them in their role as caregivers. The work will also benefit children and young people living with these conditions through a more robust and informed support network, thus improving long-term health outcomes.

For the wider NHS, cost-savings from schemes like these that use digital improvements, where fewer children and young people need to be referred for psychological support and more adhere to their treatment programmes are becoming ever more important and can be applied to a number of other diseases and patient groups.

Polly is an excellent role model. She has been strategic in the research path she has taken, both seeking and making opportunities that have brought her this success. Polly has used her success to support others along their research path. The ORCHID research centre has a specific role in generating and sustaining research activity led by nurses like Polly, and other healthcare professionals. We have a shared goal in ensuring research is fully embedded in practice and professional decision-making. We share Polly’s success to encourage others. Together we can drive change for patient benefit, ensuring research is the business of everyone at GOSH

Professor Faith Gibson, Director of Research-Nursing and Allied Health and Lead of ORCHID

About the NIHR

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) is a major funder of global health research and training.

The NIHR funds, enables and delivers world-leading health and social care research that improves people's health and wellbeing and promotes economic growth.

The NIHR Great Ormond Street Hospital Biomedical Research Centre is part of the NIHR and a collaboration between Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust and the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health.

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