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Prof Karl Staples

Prof Alison Richardson

Executive Director

Professor Alison Richardson is executive director of the Southampton Academy of Research and instrumental in our efforts to enable healthcare staff to build and sustain a research-related career. Her research focuses on understanding and responding to the needs of people affected by cancer and other life limiting illnesses.

Prof Richardson is a nurse with clinical and research interests in characterising and responding to the needs of people affected by cancer and other life changing and life limiting conditions. She enables healthcare staff to build a research career as director of the Southampton Academy of Research (SoAR), and oversees strategic developments in our cancer, palliative and end of life services.

Working in the lung injury and critical care division of the NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre, her team works to continually develop and improving palliative and end of life care, identifying and addressing the issues patients, their families, healthcare professionals and organisations confront in the face of deteriorating health and critical illness.

Improving care for those approaching end of life

Prof Richardson enables the strategic development of cancer and palliative nursing services at Southampton General Hospital. Her research centres on understanding the experiences of people affected by cancer and other life limiting illnesses and developing nurse-led interventions that can respond to the issues and problems that people have to confront as part of their day-to-day lives, specifically self-management support.

Specifically in end of life care her group is group is investigating ways in which care for the dying and bereaved can be improved through supporting effective decision making processes, management of end stage kidney disease in those  longer suitable for dialysis, studying ways in which bereaved families are best approached when about organ and  tissue donation, and measuring quality service provision at end of life.

Influencing policy and guidelines

Prof Richardson led the team who developed the NICE guidance on supportive and palliative care published in 2014, which remains the standard against which services are benchmarked today. Her work in the context of CLAHRC (Wessex) to developan emergency care and treatment plan, a tool to support patients and clinicians make better decisions about their care in the event their condition deteriorates, is influencing national recommendations being developed by theResuscitation Council (UK) and Royal College of Nursing.

Guidance for clinical teams, enabling them to transfer people home to die when this is their preference, resulted from her  research into decisions about withdrawal of life sustaining treatments, and providing patient and family centred care as death approaches.

Alison is committed to supporting health professionlas who wish to pursue a research career alongside their clinical work and works with other Nursing Midwifery and Allied Health Professional (NMAHPS) senior clinical academics as core member of The Association of UK University Hospitals Clinical Academic Roles Development Group for Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professionals (NMAHPs), an expert advisory group formed to influence and inform the development of clinical academic roles in the UK.


Alison  became the Clinical Professor of Cancer Nursing and End of Life Care in 2009, a joint role with the University of Southampton and Southampton General Hospital, with the aim of promoting evidence-based cancer, palliative and end of life care.

In 2016 she was appointed director of the Southampton Academy of Research to support health professionals wishing to pursue a research career.

Following her initial Bachelors degree and nurse training in Cardiff, she  continued to progress  her nursing career at The Royal Marsden Hospital, and was awarded her PhD in nursing by King’s College London in 1995.  She was Macmillan Lecturer in Cancer Nursing and later Professor of Cancer Nursing at King’s College London before joining Southampton.

She was founding editor of the European Journal of Oncology Nursing.  She was awarded a Florence Nightingale Leadership Scholarship in association with Health education England in 2015.

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