Date: 28 October 2019
A collaborative of cancer trainees formed in the North of England has expanded to represent the whole of the UK.
NOTCH was formed in 2017 as the Northern Oncology Trainees Collaborative for Healthcare Research. Founder Chris Jones - based in Leeds - felt that trainees had limited opportunities to lead on research projects that had a direct impact on patient care, with a number of these single-centre projects resulting in small outputs with a limited influence on patients.
Inspired by work done within the surgical community, registrars in Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds and Sheffield met to start a collaborative, aiming to give both medical and clinical oncology trainees the chance to work together to get involved in - and crucially, lead - research. By the end of the year, Liverpool and Belfast had joined, and NOTCH began reviewing project proposals from registrars across the six participating centres in early 2018.
The group selected two projects in 2018 - one focusing on a rare malignancy, led by Abigail Gault in Newcastle, and the other on general cancer outcomes, led by Anna Olsson-Brown in Liverpool. Projects are conducted across the collaborative, with data being collected by trainees in each participating centre and collated by the lead centre. NOTCH is expecting to have both projects completed by the end of the year, with four new projects being planned for 2020.
The initiative has gone national since project work began, with the inclusion of more centres meaning NOTCH now involves over 140 trainees and 35 centres across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This year, the collaborative re-branded as the National Oncology Trainees Collaborative for Healthcare, with a trainee board featuring representatives from regions spanning across the UK. It has received endorsement from the Association of Cancer Physicians (at the time, the only cancer group to have been given this), and is an affiliate of the Royal College of Radiologists.
With their expanded structure, NOTCH plan to grow further and have plans to host a training day for registrars, as well as aims to work on giving trainees experience in running and designing trials.
NOTCH founder, Chris Jones, said: “We’re pleased that [the collaborative] has so rapidly expanded to become a national initiative. This has followed on from demand, and we’re looking forward to providing lots more hands-on experience for trainees across the UK from a model developed in the North.”