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Winners of inaugral AHCS Awards announced

The winners of the inaugral Academy for Healthcare Science Awards were announced at a glittering ceremony as part of the 2014 AHCS Congress.

AHCS Awards

The first annual AHCS awards were presented on the evening of Monday 8 December at a celebration dinner, during the Academy’s inaugural two day Congress, ‘Passionate for patients, passionate about science’.

The objective of the awards is to recognise the active scientists who, day in and day out, make the most incredible contributions to knowledge, discovery, and medical advancement and make a real difference to people’s lives, often in the least recognised way. The  awards went to Professor Sian Ellard, and Sue Kenworthy.

Professor Sian Ellard

Prof Sian Ellard accepts AHCS Award
Professor Sian Ellard receives her Award from AHCS Chairman Sir Duncan Nichol (click for larger version)

Sian Ellard is a scientist who was nominated for her research work in neonatal diabetes.  Her work is described as having transformed the lives of patients throughout the world.  Together with her team at the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS FT and Peninsula Medical School, this scientist has discovered 14 new causes of monogenic disease.

Their biggest breakthrough was finding KATP channel mutations that are the most common cause of neonatal diabetes, where transfer from insulin injections to sulphonylurea tablets results in blood glucose control.  Those patients would previously have faced a lifetime of insulin therapy and the resulting risk of diabetic complications in later life.

Around 20% of those patients have a severe mutation which causes developmental delay that may be ameliorated through early treatment with sulphonylureas to improve KATP channel activity in the brain.

Sue Kenworthy

Sue Kenworthy recieves AHCS award
Sue Kenworthy receives her award from AHCS Chairman Sir Duncan Nichol (click for larger version)

Sue Kenworthy works in a very sensitive, but under-acknowledged discipline, as a full time Biomedical Scientist in the Andrology (semen analysis) section of the Blood Sciences Department at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust.

Men undergoing fertility treatment have reported being given less attention, and feeling separated from participating fully in the fertility journeys.  This scientist sensed their increasing frustration and set out to make a difference.

The patients at her Trust now feel more included and empowered to contribute to a situation they previously felt unable to influence.  In addition, she has turned the semen analysis appointment into an opportunity to engender general health improvements in a population of young men who would not normally seek advice in a health care setting.

This is an unusual development for a Biomedical Scientist, but her intervention has had a  very beneficial impact on patient experience and health.  Successful outcomes are measured by excellent results in patient satisfaction surveys and continued healthy practises of men and their families in to the future.



The Academy also presented certificates to five scientists who were identified as ‘emerging leaders and innovators’ through the abstracts they submitted to the Congress.  The Academy and the judges of the abstracts were very impressed with both the quantity, and especially the qualityof the abstracts received.

All were a very satisfying demonstration of the breadth and quality of work that goes on in the name of Healthcare Science, for the benefit of many, many people who thanks to them, may suffer a great deal less.  After much deliberation, the panel chose five which they thought were worthy of an oral presentation as part of the main Congress programme.  Each one is a personification of passion for patients and passion about science.  Our judging panel, chaired by Gilbert Wieringa, clinical lead at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, scrutinised all submissions. This was, he said,a very difficult, but rather rewarding task.

Certificates were awarded to

Megan Dale and Susan Peirce of Cardiff and Vale Local Health Board.

Their CEDAR project is a multi-disciplinary team of scientists and nurses in Cardiff who have established a community outreach service as a cost effective alternative to surgical treatment of chronic pressure ulcers. Historically patients were admitted for surgery and the ulcer recurrence rate was 30%. By visiting patients in their homes the team has been able to obviate the need for surgery in over 70%. Instead they offer self-management guidance in relieving pressures, give treatment advice and plan equipment modifications.  The ulcer recurrence rate has also dropped to 4%, patient experience has been enhanced and cost modelling confirms this as a much better use of resources.

Katharine Kenny, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust.


The medical physics team from Oxford University Hospitals have shown that whilst patients undergoing radioactive treatment for thyroid cancer are not being overdosed nearly 50% receive less than their target ablation dose based on the level of the blood cancer marker thyroglobulin. Between them the biochemistry and medical physics departments need to work more closely together to get the right dose to the right patient.

Professor Sian Ellard, Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust.

Professor Sian Ellard and her team from Plymouth University have made extraordinary strides in unravelling the genetic causes of diabetes in the newborn. Ten years ago this was known in less than 5% of patients. Working with over 1000 patients in 79 countries Sian has designed next generation sequencing techniques that now allow a diagnosis to be made in over 80%. This research and development  is an international scale contribution, the earlier diagnosis ensuring the right treatment at the start of life

Luke Sullivan, West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust

The Inspiration Muscle Training project have helped people with breathing difficulties while they’re sleeping to undergo a 6 week protocol for strengthening the upper airways muscles in their lungs. The results showed a near 50% decrease in the number of overnight respiratory related arousals that disturb sleep or cause people to wake up. By encouraging self-management the work has huge implications for how sleep services might be organised in future.

Paul Waller, Kingston University

Paul Waller and the team from Kingston University who showed that whilst Point of Care testing might allow faster results reporting of blood tests in A/E this has little impact on the 4 hour target unless you can shorten  all the other steps like X-rays and discharge decisions during a patient’s stay. Their conclusion: don’t start with POCT, start with the whole patient journey and only add POCT on if it supports faster throughput




Awards judging criteria

These awards are made to people who, through their practise in

Provision of diagnostics and therapeutics; research and development; audit and service improvement; service to their profession; or education, training and CPD have made a significant contribution to enhancing patient outcomes and safety; raising the profile of health care science; or, promoting its role in better health outcomes and best care.

The judges were incredibly impressed at the quality of the work being done by the nominees.  Their task, although very difficult in terms of identifying award winners, was made easier by the articulation and enthusiasm of the people who nominated them.  After a greatdeal of discussion and deliberation, the judges identified two people who they thought were outstanding.

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