Opened in June 2020, Clatterbridge Cancer Centre Liverpool – or CCC-Liverpool – has quickly become a key hub for cutting edge cancer treatment and research in the North West.
Benefiting from its proximity to the Royal Liverpool University Hospital as well as Liverpool’s extensive Knowledge Quarter, Clatterbridge’s acclaimed Research and Innovation Department are ideally placed to undertake an extensive range of clinical trials and studies on revolutionary new cancer drugs and treatments.
As healthcare pioneers working in the heart of Liverpool, the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre was the ideal place for the Medicash Foundation to commence its biggest ever funding project by funding a Trainee Research Advanced Nurse Practitioner (ANP) position through the Clatterbridge Cancer Charity.
Over the course of four years, the historic Liverpool-based health cash plan provider is embarking on a massive £2.1 million project to fund positions in a range of different NHS hospitals and facilities across the North West.
“Having started as a charity fund for local Liverpool hospitals back in 1871, our decision to kickstart this project in one of Liverpool’s leading treatment facilities feels like a nod to our heritage,” says Medicash Chief Executive and Foundation Trustee Sue Weir. “The most exciting part of this project is that it allows us to support not just the wonderful NHS staff here in the North West, but to improve healthcare opportunities for people across the country.”
Leading research at Clatterbridge Cancer Centre
We spoke with Emma Whitby, Head of Research Nursing at the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, about the groundbreaking work she and her team undertake as part of the CCC’s Research and Innovation Department.
“The thing about cancer is it’s very complex and doesn’t discriminate,” says Emma. “Treatments are now getting more sophisticated, as we move towards things like personalised medicine where we can test patients’ DNA to identify mutations and better marry up their treatment options.”
It’s estimated that in the UK, someone is diagnosed with cancer every two minutes. It’s for this reason that the cutting-edge research undertaken by Emma and the team at Clatterbridge is so important, providing opportunities to better study and trial effective new drugs and treatment strategies from some of the country’s top pharmacologists.
With clinical trials at Clatterbridge typically lasting three key ‘phases’ – namely offering, replicating, and then comparing the treatment or drug in question – Emma notes that Clatterbridge is uniquely suited to these rigorous testing procedures.
The Centre works closely alongside Liverpool’s universities’ research as well as the acute services provided by the Liverpool University Hospitals Foundation Trust. This collaboration allows the team to undertake more ‘cutting edge and complex clinical studies in Liverpool, while engaging in outreach across Merseyside and Cheshire – providing improved treatment options for more patients than ever before. “Our partnerships have really opened the door for us,” says Emma. “I don’t think there’s any study we couldn’t run.”
A reputation for innovation
Clatterbridge Cancer Centre are also part of the nationwide ECMC (Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre) Network. The Network was founded to improve delivery of early-phase cancer studies through collaboration and teamwork between clinicians, researchers, and suppliers: to “translate the most promising innovations from the academic and industry sectors into the cancer medicines of tomorrow.”
Comprised of 17 adult and 12 paediatric locations across the UK, Clatterbridge’s membership of the ECMC Network allows them to improve the efficacy of their trials by using the very latest research. It also means that the expertise of the clinical team at Clatterbridge can be accessed across the UK, with clinical trial patients travelling from far and wide to benefit from the Centre’s trusted reputation.
In addition, Clatterbridge also take part in Liverpool’s Clinical Research Facility collaboration, allowing cross-departmental research and study for improved patient outcomes – for example, working with specialists in cardiology, gastroenterology, and oncology from across Liverpool.
“Our job is all about the holistic care that we can offer our patients – being able to adapt to their specific needs while providing cutting-edge treatment,” says Emma.
Supporting new nursing roles
The Medicash Foundation’s funding at Clatterbridge Cancer Centre will allow Emma’s team of expert research nurses to further expand, as the Foundation funds the appointment of a new Trainee Research Advanced Nurse Practitioner.
So what will the new postholder be doing at the Centre?
“Research nurses are above else patient advocates,” says Emma. “We support safe delivery of trial drugs, ensure patient safety, monitor progress on the patient’s level, and ensure that they’re able to make informed, safe choices about their treatment every step of the way.
“However, the position funded by Medicash is a senior nursing role that provides an opportunity to develop, as well as filling a much-needed gap that will really benefit our patients.”
The new postholder will take on a highly skilled clinical role, able to perform duties traditionally carried out by doctors such as performing examinations, prescribing drugs, and carrying out assessments. “Nurses’ roles in healthcare are evolving,” explains Emma. “While a patient would have previously had to wait to see a doctor for these appointments, we can now speed up their treatment, improve their experience, and most importantly, get them home quicker – and that’s a really exciting opportunity.”
Emma notes that the quality of staff at Clatterbridge is the key to their ability to providing groundbreaking treatment alongside excellent patient care. “It’s all about having the right people at the right time,” she says. “A motivated team delivers great care – and having more capacity for staff though our Medicash funding allows us to run more trials, offering the best care possible in a timely manner.”
Funding more NHS posts with Medicash
“I’m delighted that our project is off to such a phenomenal start at our home in Liverpool,” says Sue Weir. “This is only the beginning of what promises to be one of our biggest funding projects to date, and I’m looking forward to hearing great things about the new postholder at Clatterbridge.”
Medicash’s latest funding project comes as a result of the company’s most successful year on record, having recently hit its half-a-million policyholder milestone and seen industry recognition from more than six national and international awards in 2022-23.
To find out more about the Medicash Foundation, visit the Foundation’s web page here.
To learn more about Clatterbridge Cancer Centre and their vital work, you can visit their website here.