Celebrating the first national award in palliative care research

Dr Felicity Dewhurst becomes the first to receive national award in palliative care research.

Dr Dewhurst is a Consultant in Palliative Medicine at St Oswald’s Hospice and an Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer at Newcastle University.

Dr Dewhurst has recently received a prestigious National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Advanced Fellowship making her the first to receive this award nationally in palliative care research. She will begin this fellowship position in January 2024 at Newcastle University.

The NIHR Advanced Fellowship supports individuals on their trajectory to becoming future leaders in health and social care NIHR research. This post-doctoral fellowship will allow Dr Dewhurst to split her clinical and research time equally to ensure she can maintain a clinical relevance to her research and enable her to produce practical outputs.

Her research focusses on trajectories of palliative care need amongst people with Multiple Long-Term Conditions (MLTCs) and the recommendations for service innovation. It aims to discover how palliative care should be provided for patients with MLTCs and who should deliver it. It will consider whether appropriate provision of palliative care can help reduce the care inequity experienced by people with MLTCs.

The research aims to inform service innovation and influence policy to transform experiences for patients and their families. As a result, her ultimate goal is to propose a new model of care, leading onto an NIHR programme grant for applied research testing feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness.

Dr Dewhurst, said:

“It is an honour to receive the first Advanced Fellowship awarded in palliative care research and I am delighted to have this opportunity to improve palliative care for our patients.”

“Even though palliative care is a universal human right, at least one in five people miss out on appropriate support, particularly those who have MLTC. Most people will live with and die from MLTCs, their needs become progressively more complex and their care increasingly fragmented as death approaches, so it is vital to find appropriate ways to improve and coordinate care.

“MLTCs and care inequity are inextricably linked, and they account for the majority of health and social care expenditure. To combat this, I believe it is vital to research areas on how we can find a sustainable way to provide palliative care for those with MLTC as a way to reduce care inequity and healthcare expenditure by reducing futile treatments and inappropriate admissions.”

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Dr Amy Brown, NHIP Academy Manager, said:

“It is always an honour to assist our community on their research career pathway, but it is particularly rewarding when we assist those like Dr Dewhurst in becoming the first to receive this award nationally in a much needed and underserved research area.

“It was a pleasure to work with Dr Dewhurst and help prepare her Advanced Fellowship application and interview through mentoring, organising coaching sessions and providing realistic mock interview practice. NHIP Academy is proud to have been part of this key step in her career journey.

“We’re looking forward to following her research programme and the impact it has in reducing care inequity in palliative care”.

Professor Barbara Hanratty, Professor of Primary Care and Public Health at Newcastle University, said:

‘We are delighted to host Dr Dewhurst’s fellowship at Newcastle University. She is a key member of an expanding multidisciplinary palliative care research community in the North East, and I am sure she will be an inspiring role model for colleagues across the region.’

Simon Gordon, Director of Strategy and Development at St Oswalds Hospice, said:

“We are delighted and very proud that Dr Dewhurst has received this Advanced Fellowship in Palliative Care research. St Oswald’s Hospice has been championing palliative and end of life care research for many years, so we see this as a natural and integral next step in our strategy.

“We know how important it is to work in partnership with others, organisations and individuals, so we are able to reach as many people, of all ages, in our communities, as possible. Research is invaluable in helping us to understand the ever-changing needs of our communities, and how we can work together to shape our services and systems so that everyone in our communities can have access to, and receive outstanding palliative and end of life care, when and where they need it most.”

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