Staff Choice Awards 2018/19
Unsung Hero Award (Non-Clinical)

Tom Rhodes

Has been shortlisted for this award

Job title
Senior Research Facilitator 
Hellesdon Hospital 
Norwich, Norfolk 

The nomination said...

Tom is the Senior Research Facilitator for NSFT. His main role is to assess and support the set-up of all research studies taking place in the Trust. This involves undertaking feasibility assessments to understand resource and reputational implications for the research, identify training needs for clinicians and research staff, and act as the central point of contact for all research approvals in the organisation. He also oversees the management and quality control of the research performance indicators across the organisation.

Despite a varied and busy job, he remains utterly professional, patient and willing to help everyone who he works with, including clinicians, academics and students, and research and business managers in external organisations.

In the past two years, he has successfully led on the Trust implementation of the national transition to a new research approval system. This has involved a great deal of work, including revising policies, documentation and providing one-to-one training about the new approval system to clinicians and academics.

In addition, he has broadened his skills to be a key member of the Research Audit Team and Research Safety sub-group. Further work related to Research Approvals also handed him the responsibility of leading and implementing a new regional Research Performance Reporting System in the Trust within two months in late 2017, which required him to undertake training workshops, then subsequently train all research staff members in the use of this new online system, and upload a huge amount of retrospective activity data. This was done successfully, and the Trust was one of the few to meet the tight deadline given by the regional Research Network for implementation.

Subsequent to its implementation, the Research Network has confirmed that the Trust now completes 100% accurate data completion for its main Research KPIs. Through his efforts of managing the Performance Indicators, the Research team accurately records its recruitment data, which has contributed to us being recognised as the 6th highest recruiting research organisation in the Eastern region so far in 2018.

To achieve this, this project involved having to work respectfully and efficiently with multiple parties, including the new Health Research Approval body, researchers in and outside the Trust, and the local Research Network. He has developed templates and step-by-step guidance for research staff in the Trust to help them navigate the new system.

Tom is extremely hard-working and he is willing to learn and try new things constantly, his own drive has led to him developing himself and seeking new opportunities since starting as a Band 2 role in the Trust in 2004. As Tom undertakes his current full-time role, he is also studying for a business degree through the Open University in his own-time, and is looking to continue his personal development with post-graduate courses in mental health.

His ability to juggle several projects at once, and remain calm and committed is one of his greatest assets (among many!). He is eager to continue to develop his skills and knowledge, far beyond those needed for his position, and has recently volunteered to support research development projects in the Trust.

It is worth pointing out that Tom has carved out for himself a unique role in both the Trust and the region. His peers in other organisations do not undertake the breadth of work that he does, nor with the same efficiency and professionalism. He is enormously well-respected in his department, and beyond, and several research organisations have come back to work with NSFT on new projects, citing Tom’s professionalism, friendliness and the accurate information that he provides.

His position is very much an Unsung Hero role – he keeps the mechanics of the research service going fluidly, and few people have the opportunity to recognise the enormous contribution he makes to the underlying work and systems which have improved the research service’s performance year-on-year.