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The nursing team at the Early Phase Clinical Trials Unit has been awarded the Excellence in Cancer Research Nursing Award 2021.

On the 12 October the Royal College of Nursing presented a live-stream ceremony of the RCN Nursing Awards, to recognise the incredible work that nurses undertake every day. 

Amongst this year’s finalists was the Early Phase Clinical Trials Unit (EPCTU) nursing team, based out of the Churchill Hospital, and part of the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. The team went onto win the Cancer Research UK/Royal College of Nursing Excellence in Cancer Research Nursing Award 2021.

Some of the EPCTU NursesSome of the EPCTU Nurses

This team has seen impressive results after its introduction of a mental well-being assessment for early phase trial patients to ensure they were receiving effective and holistic care from the start of their treatment. The team continue to get fantastic feedback from patients, who are often undergoing very difficult times as they partake in clinical trials for cancer treatment. 

The implementation of the assessment has led to numerous referrals to counselling and other services and it has improved communication between patients and staff, allowing them to broach subjects that may otherwise have been unaddressed. The team has streamlined its referral systems since introducing the assessment. Patient feedback has been positive and nurses feel well supported to discuss emotional topics with patients who have no other treatment options left.

In addition, the nurses support and implement the important clinical trials the unit is known for, running approximately 80 every year. Many of which are first-in-human trials of innovative cancer treatments. You can hear more about how the EPCTU works below:

The EPCTU ran the Phase 1 Clinical Trial for Tebentefusp – which Susan (pictured above) was a part of. You can read about Susan’s first hand experience of this drug that saved her life here.

The award was received by Rosie Lomas and her team, and recognises the dedication and hard work the EPCTU Nursing Team put into patient care.


The Early Phase Trials Unit was significantly hit by the pandemic – the trials ward was shut and many staff were deployed to acute medical teams. Despite this, the remaining team members found ingenious ways to continue patients on the trial drugs they needed to keep them alive. 

In addition, by integrating palliative care and introducing wellbeing assessments, they provided greater symptom support and pastoral care to the patients during this extremely difficult time. 

Particular credit should go to Caroline Miles for her benevolent leadership of the nursing team, the nurses themselves and the medics and administrative teams who worked tirelessly alongside them. Well done all!
- Prof. Sarah Blagden, Oxford’s ECMC lead