Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust Clinical School

The Clinical School at Torbay and South Devon NHS Trust exists to promote evidence-based practice and clinically-focused non-medical research that enhances patient care.

A partnership between the Trust and the University of Plymouth, the Clinical School encourages and supports nurses, midwives and other allied health professionals to look at their practice, challenge current thinking, try out new ideas and work out ways to measure what they're doing.

We are working at two levels; one to change the ethos, strategy, culture and infrastructure to help support research activity and also with individual staff to support them to increase their research skills and knowledge.

Together with the support of the trust and individual staff, we aim to:

  • increase research activity and enhance research opportunities to improve service delivery and patient outcomes
  • increase the capability for nurses, midwives, and allied health professionals to develop practice-based research
  • assist the transition of registered healthcare professionals to research leadership roles located within clinical settings
  • support the production of innovative ideas to enhance clinical practices within healthcare.

Who do we work with?

We link with research and development, education, quality improvement, researchers in residence, clinical effectiveness and the executive board.

How can we help you?

We work one day a week at various locations within the trust. We are happy to come and meet you and/or your team at a convenient time. We can discuss your practice development ideas, research questions, searching for the evidence, applying for grants, applying for ethical approval and really anything linked to research or improving practice.

Jane Viner, Chief Nurse and Deputy Chief Executive, Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust

“Our collaboration with the University of Plymouth’s South West Clinical Schools has been hugely beneficial to the Trust. Having University Professors on-site and working with us has helped us to increase the profile of health-related research in the Trust and at Board level. More staff are participating in research and we have been able to develop a pre-doctoral and doctoral programme directly as a result of this close collaboration. I am proud of what the Trust and the University have achieved together I look forward to continuing our work together.”

Clinical School Leads

Mary Hickson

Mary is a registered dietitian and her research interests are nutrition support, nutrition and ageing, nutrition care in the acute setting and across care setting boundaries, frailty and sarcopenia, and dietetic practice.



Susie Pearce

Susie is a registered nurse and her research interests include: patient and professional experience, multi professional team working, and integrated models of care; innovative methods of practice based research, including longitudinal qualitative, visual and psychosocial methods; developing care in cancer, end of life, and other life limiting and long terms conditions; and the development of cultures of compassionate, effective and safe care. 

Linking research with practice

Balance Enhancement and Ulcer Prevention in Diabetes

A feasibility study to inform the development of a large scale, multi-site, randomized controlled trial to investigate the clinical effectiveness of a new instant insole solution for people at risk of diabetic neuropathic foot ulceration to instantly modify and optimise plantar pressure. The ultimate aim is to reduce the risk of diabetic foot ulcer (re) occurrence.

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