National achievements

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Team UHDB’s Katie is named nurse of the year at prestigious British Journal of Nursing Awards

Nurse of the year

A UHDB nurse has won a prestigious national award for her role in helping to establish our Lymphoedema team as one of the best of its kind in the world. 

The Trust was exceptionally proud to see the service named a ‘Comprehensive Centre of Excellence’ by the Lymphatic Education and Research Network last year – one of only 11 centres in the world to receive this accolade.  

Dr Katie Riches, Lead Research Nurse in Lymphoedema, has been central to the service achieving this title, while she has also led research work on a national scale to help improve the understanding of lymphoedema and to enhance care for patients with the condition. 

We are delighted to say that Katie’s commitment to her role has now been recognised nationally, after she was this week named Chronic Oedema Nurse of the Year at the British Journal of Nursing Awards, after being nominated by her fellow colleagues at UHDB.   

She said: “It’s really nice to win this award and is such a boost to the whole team. We’re all a bit fed up of Covid-19 and times have been tough, so having something positive to focus on through national recognition for our service is fantastic.”

The centre at UHDB is also one of only two UK members of the European Rare Diseases Network for children’s and primary lymphoedema, with the specialist centre helping a wide scope of people of all ages, from across the country. 

Lymphoedema is a long-term (chronic) condition that affects a wide variety of different patients and can result in the lymphatic system not working properly, causing swelling in the body's tissues, usually in the arms and legs. 

Katie has worked within the Lymphoedema team at Royal Derby Hospital for 15 years and even commuted from Cambridge for six of those years “because what we do is so special and the team is so committed”.

By her own admission, Katie and her team have had to work differently throughout the Covid-19 pandemic – giving up their usual working area to other departments, while also conducting appointments over the phone for the first time. 

She said: “Our Lymphoedema team at Derby have not had a clinic space since the beginning of the pandemic, as we gave up our clinic space, so that the chemotherapy department could be expanded to allow these patients to receive this vital care safely. 

“Only being able to see patients via video link has also been extremely challenging, because so much of what we do involves hands-on assessments. We have all had to work differently but I’m proud of the way the team have adapted the way we care for patients to ensure they continue to receive the best care.”

In addition to caring for patients in clinic, much of Katie’s work is centred on research, with the nurse completing a PHD last year focusing on how we assess patients who develop lymphoedema after breast cancer treatment, with her findings being used to improve the care for these patients.  

She added: “We’ve done lots of work with breast cancer patients in the Breast Clinic over the last 10 years or so and have thankfully been able to improve the care of patients developing lymphoedema after breast cancer treatment by recognising and treating it early.

“It’s an honour to be able to work alongside people like Professor Vaughan Keeley, who founded the service over 30 years ago and has dedicated his whole career to make the service what it is today. It is a great service and we’re all immensely proud of what we do and how it’s been recognised.”