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Trust psychologists win National Institute for Health Research Award

Two of Nottinghamshire Healthcare’s clinical psychologists have won National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Development and Skills Enhancement (DSE) awards.

The NIHR Academy DSE award is part of the NIHR Fellowship Programme and funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. The awards aim to support both the development of specific skills and experience that are relevant to key research areas and hope to foster collaborations between clinicians, researchers and healthcare industries.

Clinical Psychologists Dr Sam Malins and Dr Eirini Kontou were offered one-year funded awards for their work in cancer and stroke care respectively. The awards are particularly special as this is the first time Trust staff have won this award.

Dr Sam Malins works in cancer care and is using his award to work on a way to automatically rate psychological therapy sessions using a type of artificial intelligence called natural language processing. He is also collaborating with a digital health enterprise to build on work he has already done within the Trust using a smart-messaging tool to reduce relapse from anxiety and depression as well as reducing dropout from group psychological therapies.

Dr Malins said about the award, “I’ve been fortunate to work as part of the Trust’s Clinical Psychology Cancer Service. It has a really strong track-record for developing, evaluating and implementing new ideas and also won a Quality Improvement award at the Trust’s Outstanding Service Contribution and Recognition Scheme (OSCARS) last year. For me it has highlighted how research and innovation can be a great way to address some of the key problems we face as clinicians. We are keen to encourage other clinicians looking to get involved in research that these kinds of awards are available and provide a way to move ideas forward.”

Dr Eirini Kontou will use her award to build on the work she has completed as part of her postdoctoral fellowship funded by the Stroke Association. The emphasis of her research is to improve the evidence for the provision of psychological care in stroke from acute to community settings, which is limited locally and nationally.

Dr Kontou, who also has a joint role as a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham, will focus on further developing and adapting a group programme to provide education and support for people after less severe strokes.

Dr Kontou said, “We’re the first clinical psychologists in the Trust to hold this award, which is fantastic. For me, I would like to continue my work on developing and evaluating psychological interventions, particularly for those who experience less severe strokes and do not often meet the criteria for further specialist support and rehabilitation from services.

Dr Joanna Levene, Acting Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Lead for Physical Health Psychology at the Trust said, “I am delighted that Sam and Eirini have won these prestigious awards, which are testament to their commitment as Clinical Academics.  The Physical Health Psychology Service and Neuropsychology Service have a track record of working in innovative ways and integrating research into clinical practice and these awards are recognition of this.  Clinical psychology doctoral training puts us in a strong position to work in an integrated way across health and research settings.  We have already seen the tangible benefits for patients of this integration and this award will allow our services to embed this further.”

Mark Howells, the Trust’s Head of Research and Evidence added, “As a Trust we are committed to delivering evidence-based care of the highest standard. To achieve this, we need clinician-academics who continually review practice and explore gaps in the evidence.

As the first recipients of this award in our Trust, Drs Malins and Kontou will be leading the way to achieving our ambition of embedding dedicated Clinical-Academic roles in services.”



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