“I was shocked and overwhelmed to be named the winner of this award,” Catherine explains. “Nominations are submitted to EASL from across Europe, so it’s very competitive. With so many nurses and allied health care professionals all over Europe doing such incredible work, it was very easy to feel a bit underserving, but once I had time to let the award and the positive feedback from the nomination sink in, I felt honoured, excited and very happy to be able to represent RCHT.”
Since undertaking the role in September of last year, Catherine has seen first-hand the benefits of remote working, both in terms of patient engagement and in providing opportunities for student learning. “As part of my role I run a fully integrated virtual service of outpatient hepatology care,” Catherine continues. “Patient satisfaction has been excellent, with feedback scores for the service being around 96% and above. I’m based near Brighton, so being able work from here whilst providing care to the people of Cornwall, means patients have been able to get expert advice and treatment during pandemic face-to-face restrictions and now beyond.”
“I’ve had so much interest in the role since I started,” Catherine continues. “I’ve been invited to speak at conferences about the new role and about the work that we do. I’ve worked with the transformation team, helping to support the initiation of the patient portal, and really worked hard to support liver care across all digital health platforms. RCHT has a lot of great innovation. During my work here, I’ve found colleagues to be open to new ideas, driving change and implementing new ideas. I’m very fortunate to be working as part of a team that is so supportive, with leadership that is compassionate. The communication between each member of the team is excellent.”
Liz Farrington, Consultant Nurse Hepatology at RCHT, submitted the nomination for Catherine. Discussing the new role and Catherine’s appointment, Liz explains: “Prior to the Covid pandemic, we were looking to offer a virtual platform of care to our liver patients. With high clinic non-attendance and expensive public transport, we needed to innovate delivery of health care to improve access to diagnosis and treatment, whilst aiming to reduce the extensive burden of liver disease. It seemed a momentous task to achieve at the time, then Covid provided a platform in which to accelerate our digital health care provision.”
Liz continues: “We required an experienced nurse to join our team and quickly realised the virtual platform not only benefitted the patient journey, but also the recruitment journey. We could employ from anywhere around the world. As an experienced liver nurse based in Brighton, we are so lucky that Catherine could join our team. I have been truly humbled by her approach to the role, the overcoming of barriers of a new, innovative approach, and her ability to engage our patient group. She has been paramount in patient feedback to the service and her audit data reflects the highest standards of care provided. Virtual outpatient consultations via telephone and video delivery have been embraced by both the hospital and by patients.”
“Catherine has an embedded holistic approach to healthcare, considering liver disease from the earliest prevention stage to the sickest end of life patient group,” Liz continues. “She strives to develop a wide personal professional portfolio, engaging not only with expert clinical practice, but also innovating research development, leadership, and education. She has embarked on a virtual liver and gastroenterology training programme for both student nurses and ward nurses, and I am really excited to see this future work unfold.”
Liz concludes: “The role of the virtual nurse has been revolutionary for RCHT, which historically due to location has had difficulty recruiting across a range of disciplines, and difficulty in reducing unwarranted variation within healthcare, due to our large geographical area. Throughout Covid, virtual health care delivery has been a natural step forwards, and Catherine has rapidly adapted to, and accelerated the role, paving the way for similar posts and setting the bar for our sustainable future. She is a pleasure to work with.”
Here is Catherine and her colleague Mark Holmes talking about the virtual care they provide.