Manchester nurse up for top accolade for reducing chemotherapy and radiotherapy side effect

Press release posted July 2023

A nurse who introduced a form of light therapy to reduce the impact of cancer treatments on patients and at the same time reduce carbon emissions has been shortlisted for a prestigious award.

Alexandra Langstaff, who works for The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, has been selected from 920 entries as a finalist in the Greener Nursing Practice category of the RCN Nursing Awards 2023.

Ms Langstaff will find out if she has won at a ceremony on Friday 10 November 2023 in Liverpool Cathedral. The overall RCN Nurse of the Year 2023, selected from all the category winners, will also be announced at the event.

Ms Langstaff introduced the use of photobiomodulation (PBM) to treat head and neck cancer patients experiencing mucositis, an inflammation of the mouth or gut that is common side effect of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

In 11 patients who had the treatment, it delivered a 63-day reduction in bed use, saving the trust over £32,000 and cutting carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions by 2,483.39kg. Symptoms improved, with a 64% reduction in morphine use and 50% reduction in patients needing medication after 6 weeks.

Based on treatment eligibility of 180 tonsil and base of tongue cancer patients per year, savings are projected to increase to 42,774kg CO2e (equivalent to 123,197 miles driven in an average car), and over £530,000 in admission and medication costs for the trust.

Ms Langstaff says: "This was a hard piece of work to undertake alongside my full-time role, and being a finalist highlights what PBM can achieve for patients, purse and planet.
"This project has been a gamechanger for patients in regards to both physical and psychological symptoms. The realisation that it also supports net zero targets and would potentially save money in our struggling NHS just enhances this even more."

Alexandra Langstaff, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust

RCN general secretary and chief executive Pat Cullen said: "Our inspiring finalists demonstrate the very best of nursing and what can be achieved in some of the challenging times for the profession.
"They highlight the wide variety of ways nurses improve the care of people at all stages of life and how they demonstrate their professionalism and clinical excellence every day, and in every setting, throughout the UK."

The Foundation of Nursing Studies is the award’s charity partner. Its chief executive and current chair of the judging panel Joanne Bosanquet MBE said: "The quality of entries this year was superb and it was near impossible to choose our finalists from the creative and innovative work submitted.
"The shortlist showcases excellence and recognises the enormous difference that nurses make to people’s lives throughout the UK."

The RCN Nursing Awards will this year be held alongside the inaugural Nursing Live, a new and dynamic event for everyone who works in nursing. Hosted over 2 days (10 and 11 November) at the ACC complex in Liverpool, the event will focus on both the professional and personal development of nurses at every stage of their careers and will be the first event of its kind for the sector.

Last updated: July 2023