2023 has been a significant year for the NRC

Programme Director Miriam Duffy, looks back at the development of the NRC Programme in 2023.

If you’d asked me back in January what I thought 2023 would look like for the NRC Programme, I’m pretty sure I’d have painted you a different picture. Nothing that’s worth doing is straightforward and success is seldom a straight line – progress frequently involves twists and turns along the way.

But 2023 has undeniably been a year of achievement and I am so proud of the programme, the team, and of all of the people and partners who have contributed to our ongoing success.

We have momentum, we have a building that is fast taking shape, we have political sign off, and we have a platform upon which we can prepare all of the other things we need to make the NRC an outstanding success when it opens in 2025.

I think my most memorable moment of the year was back in October when a number of the key players in the NRC story gathered to mark the government’s official ‘green light’. In dappling early autumn sunshine, I stood with Lord Markham representing the Government, the Duke of Westminster, Nick Carver the Chair of NUH, General Sir Timothy Granville-Chapman who has directed the DNRC Programme from the outset, as well as a number of others, to take stock of the significance of that ‘green light’ and to throw our minds and efforts forward to the task of completing the facility. It was a galvanising moment; another important stepping stone on the journey to delivering the improvements for patients that the NRC is ultimately all about.

Reading and reflecting on other chapters in the story of this year, I find it massively fulfilling that the team has done everything from inspire the next generation into clinical rehabilitation at the Royal Society’s ‘Summer of Science’ extravaganza, through to winning design and architecture awards for the building, and also hiring a selection of tremendously talented people into the expanding NRC workforce, who will join our excellent and established Linden Lodge colleagues when the NRC doors open in 2025.

The NRC is about so much more than the building. That is just the place and physical expression of what we are all about – the magic is going to come from the numerous people who are involved in the programme and how, enabled by the new centre, they will raise the bar across rehabilitation, clinically, academically and through research and innovation..

This time last year we were appointing Sandy Walsh as our first Director of Operations, which seems like a long time ago, and we’ve done a tremendous amount since then. We have appointed our senior leadership team as well as new consultants and our second cohort of advanced care practitioners (ACPs). Our academic lead partners, the University of Nottingham and Loughborough University, have continued to push research and innovation in rehabilitation and have been successful in several grant applications as well as supporting ongoing PhD students aligned to the NRC. We continue to work collaboratively with the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre and look forward to realising the opportunities that being co-located on the Estate will bring.

The workforce is one of the big things on my mind for 2024 – this will be the year where we continue to grow the team that is going to make the NRC the inspiring and life-changing centre we dream of. I’m looking forward to that opportunity to build on the excellence we already have within NUH and to complement that with additional recruitment and new hires. I think the potential here is very exciting and, as the patients always tell us, it’s the people they meet and who look after them that they remember and who, in their opinion, make the difference.

Readers will know the NRC is ultimately about the opportunity to integrate three things in a way which hasn’t happened before and enables a new clinical model for rehabilitation and better results for patients: namely clinical treatment, research and innovation, and training and education.

In 2023, we have taken important strides in all three. In 2024, I very much hope we will take that work further, in particular in our NRC Academic Network where the opportunity is now coming to fruition. That is hugely exciting and we’re already very much enjoying working with our academic partners to advance rehabilitation research.

We have a great deal of important work yet to be done and many more stepping stones to tread before we open the NRC’s doors to patients. But for now, may I take the opportunity to thank everyone who is contributing to the effort and the achievement.

Have a very peaceful and happy Christmas. Here’s looking forward to making 2024 another compelling chapter in the emerging NRC story.