Diane Lomas at the Barnes Clinical Research Facility

Research’s fresh challenges keep Diane on the up

After a successful industrial career in logistics, Diane Lomas made a fresh start with the NHS … and has kept on making fresh starts ever since.

Research Practitioner Diane’s first NHS role was as bank staff, delivering flu vaccines to GPs and hospitals. Thirteen years later she is leading on the delivery of an important commercial flu vaccine study.

And while she might have come full circle as far as flu is concerned, her role now is one where she has to deploy a wide range of skills and knowledge that she’s learnt as she’s made her way up the ladder.

In that time, she’s progressed from being a Band 2 Pharmacy Assistant, through her first research role as an Admin Assistant, then to a Research Assistant in the acute research delivery team before taking her first steps into a clinical role as Research Practitioner.

What links them is her love of a new challenge and enthusiasm to keep on learning as well as the support of colleagues who have given her the opportunity to train and improve.

But why the NHS in the first place – and then why research?
Diane says: “After I took redundancy from my logistics job, I was in a position to pick and choose what I did next. But I only wanted to go to the NHS, I wanted to do something worthwhile and it’s the finest healthcare system in the world.

“I enjoyed my time in pharmacy but I wanted a change and my first role in research was a brand new one, evolving as it went along and adding new responsibilities.”

After a spell in research finance, Diane then became an Assistant with the acute research delivery team – another new role and one in a fast-paced, time-critical environment, supporting research with some of our sickest patients.

She’d been there for 18 months when everything changed as Covid hit. Fresh challenges came swiftly as the Trust took a leading role in delivering research into Covid treatments and vaccines.

Diane volunteered to help with the admin for the vaccine studies that we ran in community settings but then had the opportunity to train up in venepuncture and move to the clinical side. “It was daunting, I was right out of my comfort zone, and it’s been a big learning curve, but I found I was good with people in a clinical setting. I have loved it all and although studying isn’t easy, it hasn’t been as difficult as I feared,” she said.

Her intense experience of Covid studies was a big help as she made another fresh start and big step up to Research Practitioner and she’s now used that knowledge as the lead practitioner on NCA’s first flu vaccine study, a Phase 1/2 commercial study in healthy volunteers. Nearly 40 participants are involved and she’s hopeful it will lead to further studies coming into the Trust.

For most of her time in research, Diane has also been a Freedom To Speak Up Guardian, supporting staff to raise concerns and liaising with managers to make changes.

And she’s continuing to seek fresh challenges through NCA’s frontline leadership course: “I love what I do – I want to do more, learn more. Without research, we don’t get anything new or improve the NHS.”

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