Cancer research award winner recognised for addressing unmet patient needs

A head and neck cancer nurse specialist has won the Excellence in Cancer Research category of the prestigious RCNi Nurse Awards for her ‘excellent work, breaking taboos and making patients’ lives better’.

Julie Hoole
 Award winner Julie Hoole. Picture: David Gee

When Julie Hoole saw that sexual and intimacy needs in her patients were not being addressed, she helped develop the MHK Tool – a sexual dysfunction and intimacy questionnaire – to act as a means for patients and clinicians to be open to discussion.

Julie, lead cancer nurse at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, was named the winner of the Cancer Research UK-sponsored award at a gala ceremony at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel in London.

Increasing need

She has been a head and neck cancer nurse specialist for more than 13 years, and could see that sexual and intimacy needs in her patients were not being addressed. And it is an increasing need – oral cancer rates increased by 68% in the past 20 years. Oropharyngeal cancer is now being diagnosed in patients aged 20 upwards – in the main due to oncogenic HPV virus.

Julie says: ‘Even if gender-neutral vaccination is introduced now, a decade’s cohort has been affected. This means intimacy and sexual problems are more openly expressed in head and neck cancer patients.


‘There may be sexual dysfunction issues before and after treatment as the patient’s body image changes and they lose confidence. There are also pressures on the patient’s relationship which can lead to breakdown, including the change of roles to a carer and the loss of identity in the relationship.’

Maxillofacial/head and neck consultant David Mitchell said: ‘This award recognises and celebrates individual cancer nurses or teams who are involved in clinical research to discover new ways to prevent, diagnose or treat cancer and improve patient outcomes. Julie has done some fantastic work to address an area of unmet need for her patients’


He adds: ‘Her insightful contribution to the care and support of head and neck cancer patients cannot be overstated. Never before has this opportunity to “open the door” for patients to discuss intimacy and sexuality in relation to living with and beyond their cancer been enabled in such a pragmatic way.’

Further information

For the full story, including a photo gallery, click here.

For a round up of all the winners, finalists and coverage of the night’s events, go to RCNi's Nurse Awards home page.

The RCNi Nurse Awards are the profession’s top accolade for nursing excellence. They recognise and reward nurses who have come up with new ways to improve health outcomes, enhance patient experiences and transform nursing practice. The awards provide a fantastic opportunity to share nursing initiatives, raise the profile of nursing, gain national recognition and influence nursing policy and practice.
Look out for details of how to enter the 2018 awards!