The development of the Norwich Clinical Trials Unit (NCTU) at the Norwich Medical School over the last four years illustrates our School’s commitment to Athena Swan. As a UKCRC Registered Clinical Trials Unit we need a well-developed infrastructure, and to recruit, retain and develop highly trained staff. This enables us to work with research teams and investigators to deliver the highest quality clinical trials from NIHR and charity funders. We are involved with studies of human health from set-up to close down and have created strong collaborations with academic investigators and NHS trust consultants locally and nationally. Currently, we have over 30 active trials, which cover 400 sites and include 28,000 patients.
Trial teams include statisticians, health economists, and specialists in data management, regulations, trial management and quality assurance. Having a large portfolio of trials enables us to offer different experiences for staff development and employment stability. We also offer part-time roles and flexible working. Staff at all levels are actively encouraged to undertake their own tailored training opportunities. This can include attendance at national and international conferences, leadership, management and self-development courses, which are funded from our NIHR CTU support funding. We are currently supporting a member of staff to undertake a part-time MSc in Clinical Trials at UCL.
Over the last four years, our core staff has grown from three to 22; in the last year, we have made four internal promotions and have converted three staff from fixed term to indefinite contracts. There have been two CTU babies over the last year. We appointed a programmer for maternity leave cover to ensure overlap and hand over before one staff member commenced maternity leave and to ensure cover was in place to allow a phased return. We have also offered that staff member “keep in touch” days whilst on maternity leave, to maintain contact with the team and to facilitate their return to work.
There is a great sense of teamwork and staff are given responsibility to manage their own time. They enjoy being part of an interdisciplinary research group, which juggles tasks to achieve common goals. One of the trial teams won the Faculty Team Science award, which recognised the multi-disciplinary working and contribution of staff at all levels.
Our staff say the things they enjoy about working at the NCTU include:
‘The great mix of staff with different experiences and expertise, making the NCTU a dynamic and engaging place to work.’‘Everyone is incredibly approachable; they really enjoy the level of clinical research exposure and responsibility that their roles provide.’