Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust Clinical School

The South West Clinical School in Cornwall is a partnership between the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust, Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust and the University of Plymouth. It exists to promote evidence-based practice, to develop clinically-focused non-medical research programmes that enhances patient care and to grow and nurture clinical academic pathway opportunities and careers.

Our objectives are to:

  • Increase research capacity, skills, and outputs within nursing, midwifery and allied health professions.
  • Increase evidence-based practice activity, enhancing the translation of evidence into practice.
  • Strengthen the position of the patient as the focal point for care – putting the patient at the heart of the Clinical School’s activity.

The Clinical School supports and conducts a wide range of activities that include:

  • the Alumni Clinical Research Grant Scheme
  • funded scholarships (supported by Charitable Funds)
  • pre-doctoral, doctoral and post-doctoral colleagues conducting clinical research
  • master students undertaking Clinical School targeted dissertations
  • hosting international visitors and visiting scholars
  • developing research active interest groups and accredited clinical academic wards and departments
  • developing and delivering researcher development programmes and seminars with clinicians to support evidence-based-practice
  • the dissemination of nursing research findings, including publication support
  • the centre for ‘novice to expert’ researcher mentorship; research grant sourcing and application support and submission, complementing existing resources including the Trust’s Research and Development Department and Cornwall Health Library.

Clinical School Leads

Professor Jill Shawe

Professor of Maternal and Family Health and Joint Director of the South West Clinical School in Cornwall.

Dr Frazer Underwood

Associate Clinical Professor (Honorary) in Integrated Services for Older People, Consultant Nurse and Joint Director of the South West Clinical School in Cornwall.

Professor Bridie Kent

Professor in Nursing Leadership and Deputy Director of the University of Plymouth’s Doctoral College.

Honorary Clinical School Fellows

  • Dr Lisa Burrows, Lecturer, University of Plymouth
  • Angela Bellamy, Deputy Head of Midwifery and Consultant Midwife
  • Karen Cock, Consultant Nurse
  • Tristan Coombe, Lecturer, University of Plymouth
  • Zoe Cooper, Consultant Nurse
  • Louise Dickinson, Deputy Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health and Director of Infection Prevention and Control (Consultant Nurse)
  • Liz Farrington, Clinical Director and Consultant Nurse
  • Emma Lamarti, Dietitian
  • Claire Martin, Deputy Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professionals
  • Heather Newton, Consultant Nurse
  • Neil Powell, Consultant Pharmacist
  • Liz Tremayne-Ward, Occupational Therapist
  • Jill Venables, Head of Facilities and Contract Management
  • Julie Wright, Speech and Language Therapist
  • Emma Underwood, Lymphedema Specialist (Occupational Therapist)

Honorary Clinical School Associate Professors

  • Kim O’Keeffe, Joint Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professionals
  • Frazer Underwood, Associate Director of Nursing for Research, Innovation and Improvement and Consultant Nurse in Integrated Services for Older People

Honorary Clinical School Associates

  • Mandy Gorton, Clinical Effectiveness Manager

Linking research with practice

Helen Lyndon, NIHR Clinical Doctoral Academic Research Fellow

Engagement activities and opportunities

  • #400Word writing competition – quarterly prizes awarded for 400 word submission illustrating the translation of evidence-based practice (contact the Clinical School for submission guidelines)
  • Virtual drop-in sessions – designed for non-medical staff to meet the Clinical School team to seek advice and support with clinical academic opportunities. 
  • Research idea support – use the online form to submit a research idea and it will be reviewed by the research and development team. You will be contacted by the Clinical School team to explore your idea further.
  • Joanna Briggs Institute resources and opportunities – the Clinical School is a Clinical Partner of the Univesity’s Collaborating Centre, and as such have a wide range of resources available to staff to access evidence and tools to support implementation of evidence into practice.
  • Virtual writing café – the Clinical School offers bespoke support staff developing academic assignments for publication or to progress #400Word submissions.
  • Seminars and workshops – planned and bespoke opportunities throughout the year (contact the Clinical School of more details).
  • Virtual journal clubs – committed to the development of clinically and academically accredited wards and departments, establishing specialty multidisciplinary journal clubs is a great first step. In partnership with the Cornwall Health Library team, these are facilitated to start with to get them up and running.
  • Prizes and awards – prizes such as the annual travel scholarship, JBI Comprehensive Systemic Review Training prizes and small project scholarships.
All prizes are generously supported by the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust Charitable Fund. For more information on these prizes, please visit their website for more information.


Clinical partner status awarded to Cornwall's Acute Hospital Trust

The University of Plymouth's Joanna Briggs Institute Centre of Clinical Excellence has awarded the South West Clinical School in Cornwall clinical partner status. This acknowledges the work clinical colleagues, affiliated to the Clinical School, have undertaken in systematic review activities to-date and their commitment share new knowledge and promote evidence-based practice activities through workshops and implementation reviews. This formal partnership will further grow networking and researching activities between academic and clinical staff to benefit patients and service users.

Systematic Review Training Prize Winner

Zoe Cooper, consultant nurse for safeguarding won the 2018 Clinical School JBI Systematic Review Training Prize. Zoe will be looking at the impact of recent legislative changes in domestic abuse policy on older people.

In 2020 three prizes were awarded. Chrissie Page, a cardiology specialist ward nurse will be exploring the evidence related staff burnout. Julie Wright, speech and language therapist will conduct a systemic review into nasogastric tubes and effect on swallow in critical care. Finally, John Gulvin, a mental health occupational therapist, will be exploring the role of occupational therapy in outdoor space and mental health.

South West Clinical Schools

The South West Clinical Schools are a collaboration between the University of Plymouth and the NHS, working with nurses, midwives, and allied health professionals at all stages of their clinical and academic development.

Our work with local health services has identified the urgent need to capture improvements in patient and family outcomes, as well as ensure that existing evidence is used to best develop the research led by non-medical health professionals. To meet these needs, we have invested in clinical schools, which are professorial-led centres, in five of our local NHS trusts. The main focus for the clinical schools is to encourage health professionals to look at their practice, challenge current thinking, try out new ideas and work out ways to measure what they're doing.

Find out more about the South West Clinical Schools