Hi, my name is Becky and I’m a clinical trials assistant (CTA). This generally means that I have a really varied role in the research team, supporting a lot of the studies that we run.
I originally joined the team in April 2020, which, as you can imagine, was a lot different from my team’s normal way of working, however, together I think we have developed a great, dynamic way of working to successfully conduct research in this new world.
Like a lot of people, in the first year of the pandemic, I was redeployed and went to the Covid community testing team and worked on a van that would test people in their homes who otherwise couldn't get out, and also at the Adanac park testing site for anyone who needed to go into hospital. And there were some very wet and windy days here!!
I’m also still redeployed to the Covid vaccine research hub which is doing fascinating and ground-breaking work trialling a range of vaccine options, many of which have been used globally. There is such a huge spectrum of people willing to volunteer for these studies and research really couldn’t happen without them.
One of my favourite studies is the Siren study which recruited a cohort of our NHS staff to look at Covid reinfection rates and vaccine efficacy and has been used to inform the government’s roadmap out of Covid. It involves us taking regular swab and blood samples from participants and is a great example of how diverse research can be and how it has helped me personally upskill so that I can provide this service.
In the winter months, I spend a lot of time with the health visitor clinics at the Sure Start centres recruiting for one of our longest running studies. The study is looking at the efficacy of the Prevenar pneumococcal childhood immunisation by taking swabs from 0-4 year olds’ noses. So when parents bring their children in for an appointment with the team, I ask if they want to take part in the 5 minute study whilst they’re there and I think this is a great example of how our work really is based in the community.
We also have a Care Home Research Partnership (CHRP) and we regularly catch up with the managers to discuss the ongoing and upcoming research projects and other ways that we can help the teams and support research in the homes. We currently have a study going where the team is going into care homes to look at the diagnosis and treatment of pneumonia by taking swabs from residents and is only possible because of the great relationship we’ve developed with the homes.
As you can see, the studies that we work on are so varied that no two days of the week are the same – this really makes me love my job and honestly the week goes by so quickly! I’m at a different site most days of the week, and some days we’re able to work from home – but other days we’ve been out promoting research at the Victorious festival!
My favourite part has to be working with such a variety of different teams across the trust and spending each day with a different group of great people – why have one team of colleagues when you can work with so many! A lot of the time, research relies on involvement from the clinical teams and really couldn’t be possible without the great support from all those who help us succeed with our studies.
I genuinely have such a passion for research because of all the potential it offers and how much it can help people – we live in a wonderful world where quality of life has vastly improved due to the great treatments that have been developed and many once fatal illnesses now have ways to be treated, and all of this is possible because of the great work that the multitude of people involved with research do.