Sam Finnikin describes his experience of being a NICE Scholar

Would you like the opportunity to improve the quality of care and contribute to your professional development?

NICE Scholarships are one-year opportunities to find out about the inner workings of NICE. You'd undertake a supported improvement project, related to our guidance, within a local organisation, national charity or voluntary sector organisation.

View examples of potential projects (PDF) that might be suitable activities for scholars.

Scholars recruitment is now closed.


What's involved?

We aim to award 10 scholarships each year to:

  • act as our ambassadors for 1 year
  • undertake a supported improvement project within a local organisation
  • support and maintain the connection between NICE and health and social care experts
  • engage with senior staff at NICE and in the health and social care sector
  • help us improve and promote the quality of health and social care
  • develop new ways of working in health and social care.

How does it work?

You'll be supported in your role through a series of workshops and access to an adviser. The scholarship also provides access to the expertise of our staff.

You'll be expected to spend around 7.5 hours per week on your project. Scholarships are unpaid and you must agree your application with your employer. We will, however, meet all reasonable expenses (such as travel or accommodation) incurred in the course of carrying out scholarship activities.

Would I be suitable?

Scholarships are suited to role such as:

  • specialist registrars
  • senior nurses
  • pharmacists and allied health professionals
  • healthcare scientists
  • service improvement leads
  • public health and social care specialists
  • psychological professionals
  • lay members from our committees
  • those working in the charitable and voluntary sector.


Support from senior advisers

We've appointed 2 senior advisers to oversee the programme.

They've a wealth of experience in health and social care and in working with NICE. The senior advisers provide expert support to our scholars and act as a key link person between them and NICE.

John Powell


John is a public health physician who works part time for NICE (as a consultant clinical adviser) and part-time at the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford (as associate professor). He is also a visiting professor at Kings College London, and an honorary professor at the University of Manchester.

John is an editor of the NIHR Health Technology Assessment series and joint editor-in-chief of the SAGE journal Digital Health. His main interest is in digital health; he also has interests in evidence-based practice, knowledge management and systems improvement in the NHS.

Elaine Whitby

RN, MSc (Nursing)

Previously Associate Director of Education and Implementation Support at NICE, Elaine’s previous roles include researcher at the NHS Modernisation Agency and Associate Director at the Association of Greater Manchester PCTs, where she worked across 10 PCTs and 9 trusts on collaborative programmes to design and implement new developments incorporating NICE and National Screening Committee guidance.

Elaine now works for the RCN where she is Clinical Service Accreditation Lead and supports professional learning and development in the North West.

Her main interest is spread and implementation of innovation; supporting individuals or teams to develop evidence-informed practice and approaches to improvement in the real world of day-to-day practice. Associated areas of interest are quality improvement and clinical leadership.

Our current scholars


2018-2019 scholars

Mark Butler

Specialist registrar general paediatrics

Mark graduated from Leicester University in 2008 and completed his foundation training in North London. He undertook paediatric training in South London and has been a member of the RCPCH since 2013. He is a general paediatrician with a particular interest in ambulatory and integrated care and the use of IT and data in healthcare.

As a senior trainee he has become increasingly involved in service development and has led projects in a variety of settings. In 2018 he was appointed as a Service Improvement Fellow at the Evelina London Children’s Hospital.

As a NICE Scholar Mark will undertake a project to assess the implementation of our guidance on asthma, and the associated quality standards in children and young people across primary and secondary care in Lambeth and Southwark. He will evaluate the variability of implementation across population groups and different healthcare settings. By developing a better understanding of the local system and exploring this variation he will identify areas where improvements can be made.

Roz Gittins

Director of pharmacy

Roz qualified as a Pharmacist in 2008 after graduating with a first class MPharm degree. She is the Director of Pharmacy for Addaction, a national third sector organisation. As the organisation’s professional lead for Pharmacy, she manages the National Medicines Management Team. She also holds the position of Medicines Safety Officer, Controlled Drug Accountable Officer and Responsible Person for Home Office licences. She has previously worked predominantly in NHS secondary care services and has undertaken various post graduate qualifications, specialising in psychiatry and substance misuse.

Roz is currently the Registrar for the College of Mental Health Pharmacy and a credentialed member. She is an accredited RCGP trainer for their Drug and Alcohol Certificates and occasionally locums in community pharmacies. She is an independent non-medical prescriber specialising in substance misuse, has contributed to CPPE publications and reviewed text book chapters on substance misuse for Oxford University Press. Roz has worked as a Consultant for the Choice and Medication website and is on the Editorial Board of Clinical Pharmacist.

Roz has been a pharmacist topic expert for NICE, and is now serving a three year term as an expert advisor. As a NICE scholar, she’ll be focusing on medicines optimisation in opioid substitute treatment, to help us and Addaction to continue to improve the quality of care delivery in substance misuse services.

Nicola Guess

Lecturer and honorary researcher

Dr Nicola Guess is a lecturer at Kings College London and an honorary researcher at Imperial College London. Her research interests are in the role of nutrition in the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes. Specifically how the underlying pathophysiological differences may influence the effectiveness of dietary interventions to manage glycaemia. She has been the chief investigator of 4 clinical trials examining the effect of diet on glucose homeostasis, and also carries out epidemiological studies to complement findings from physiological trials. Prior to moving into research, Nicola was a community dietitian at Newham General Hospital for 3 years.

As a scholar she will be investigating meal provision for inpatients with type 1 and 2 diabetes. The annual National Diabetes Inpatient Audit shows that patients with diabetes feel that the food they are provided with in hospital is not appropriate for them, but the audit does not tell us why this is. Her project will involve interviewing patients and their families and collecting data on the nutritional composition of foods and meals provided in hospital. The aim of the project is to understand what changes can be made to ensure patients with type 1 and 2 diabetes receive nutritionally appropriate and enjoyable meals as inpatients.

Alisa Hodgson

Neuro navigator and highly specialist physiotherapist

Alisa is a Physiotherapist based in London and works as a Neuro Navigator for Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. Prior to moving to the United Kingdom she was involved in developing South Australia’s state-wide acute stroke pathway. Since moving to London she has developed a successful Admission Avoidance Team and a Hospital At Home Service with the Royal London Hospital and community services.

Alisa is passionate about making community services innovative, efficient and sustainable in order to enhance health and social care outcomes. She works with complex neurological patients and their families to ensure each patient is receiving the right therapy, at the right time and in the right place. Navigating patients through the pathway; from the acute hospital, to inpatient neuro-rehabilitation units, and into the community, has highlighted inequalities and variability in community based neuro-rehabilitation across South East London.

As a NICE Scholar, Alisa will be reviewing community neuro-rehabilitation services across South East London, and comparing them with the NICE recommendations in Traumatic Brain Injury. She hopes the scholarship will engage the various Clinical Commissioning Groups, NHS Trusts, Local Authorities and third sector organisations to raise standards of practice in order to meet NICE guidance, if inequality or areas of improvement are identified.

David Liggins

Non-executive director, trustee, lay member and patient representative

David started his career as a lecturer in economics, worked next in local government and Pricewaterhouse Coopers on economic and inner city regeneration. He set up a small venture capital company and, following research with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, worked as a consultant in community development.

David chaired Bassetlaw PCT, was an independent member of the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman commission and has been a patient and public representative on our diabetes prevention and management guidelines update committees.

Currently, he is a non-executive director, trustee, lay member or patient representative with two charities, two public/private partnerships, NHS England, NIHR, a local Patient Participation Group and a community group in the Wirral. The work is on children with SEND, vulnerable older people, primary care research, clinical trials and place based commissioning.

David’s scholarship work will focus on shared decision making. He will bring a fresh perspective to the Shared Decision Making Collaborative.

Roshelle Ramkisson

Child and adolescent consultant psychiatrist

Roshelle is a child and adolescent consultant psychiatrist who divides her time clinically working in a CAMHS service in Oldham and as a training programme director in psychiatry in the north west working with Health Education England. Roshelle has also completed her masters in health and public leadership from Manchester Business School and the University of Birmingham whilst she was on the 1st cohort of the North West Medical Leadership Programme. In addition, she holds a postgraduate diploma in psychiatry from The University of Manchester.

Roshelle has a special interest in neurodevelopmental disorders in children and emotional disorders in older adolescents. She has explored newer psychological approaches and innovatively led quality improvement projects to embed these approaches locally. Roshelle has initiated and led regional and national level projects such as the Autumn foundation school in psychiatry that inspired and encouraged high recruitment in psychiatry.

As a NICE scholar, Roshelle will be undertaking an implementation project to ensure that NICE Guideline (NG87) Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: diagnosis and management is being implemented within Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust. She also intends to encourage implementation by creating awareness regionally across Greater Manchester through the Strategic Clinical Networks, and nationally in health, education, social care and the public.

Sanjay Rao

Consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist

Mr Sanjay Rao is a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist working at the James Cook University Hospital, South Tees NHS Foundation Trust since 2010. He is an honorary senior clinical lecturer at the Newcastle University and training programme director at the Northern Deanery. He has completed a masters in clinical education from Plymouth University.

Sanjay has a lead role as speciality college tutor for postgraduate education and medical appraiser at South Tees. He is a principal investigator for multicentric research trials and actively contributes to the research portfolio in his unit.

As a NICE scholar, Sanjay will review management plans, individual preferences and factors influencing the clinical approach for symptomatic uterine fibroids. The options include medical management with ulipristal acetate, gonadotrophins, levonorgestrel intra-uterine system, embolization and surgical intervention. This project will review the level of compliance to NICE recommendations and reasons for deviation from benchmarked standards, taking into account the recent MHRA safety measures in regard to the use of ulipristal acetate.

Katie Spencer

Doctoral clinical fellow

Katie is a Medical Research Council doctoral clinical fellow. She’s currently undertaking a PhD investigating how we use palliative radiotherapy across the NHS in England and whether current, and possible future, treatments are cost-effective. This work involves combining both the benefits and costs of treatment within an economic model, alongside using routinely collected clinical data to assess how treatments are currently used.

As a NICE scholar she will use the National Radiotherapy Dataset to investigate how palliative radiotherapy treatment patterns for bone metastases vary across the NHS. She’ll use this information to provide feedback to clinicians to help them to understand how their practise compares to that of their peers and consider if cost-effectiveness can be improved.

Elaine Teh

Cardiothoracic trainee

Elaine is a thoracic-themed cardiothoracic trainee based in the Southwest deanery. She is passionate about all aspects of thoracic surgery, especially lung cancer surgery, from endoscopic, minimally invasive to maximally invasive and complex surgery. As she continues to progress she is expanding her training to focus on not just individual patient, but understanding the bigger picture in patient care and pathways.

As a NICE scholar, she will explore how the National Optimal Lung Cancer Pathway, especially the pathway for patients with curative intent management, can be implemented in her local multidisciplinary team (MDT). She will assess the various steps in the pathway. Subsequently, working in collaboration with physicians and local MDT co-ordinators, she’ll examine where efficiencies and improvement could be made, with the ultimate aim of a faster and more standardised approach for all lung cancer patients.

Avril Tucker

Advanced primary care pharmacist specialising in antimicrobials

Avril graduated from the Robert Gordon University in 2005 with a degree in pharmacy. She started her career in community pharmacy and worked as a pharmacy branch manager for 9 years. In 2010, she completed her post graduate diploma in clinical pharmacy from the Robert Gordon University and, in 2015, completed a clinical infection therapy course at Swansea University. Shortly after this, she was appointed as a primary care antimicrobial pharmacist – the first role of its kind in Wales. Avril qualified as a non-medical independent prescriber in 2017. She specialises in infections of the ear, throat and urinary tract.

Avril currently sits on the All Wales Antimicrobial Pharmacist Group and the Welsh Antimicrobial Resistance Delivery Group. She is also a NICE committee member for the management of common infections prescribing guidance. In addition, Avril is the founding member of Supporting Wales with Antibiotics in Primary Care (SWAP), a group aiming to empower and equip primary care pharmacists to embed effective antimicrobial stewardship in every GP cluster in Wales.

As a NICE scholar, Avril is hoping to use her SWAP network to establish a national project aiming to improve patient outcomes for those with recurrent urinary tract infections. This will be done through demonstrating the role primary care pharmacists can have in implementing NICE guidance and quality standards within general practice.


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2017-2018 scholars

Andrew Mulford

Senior Community Dentist

Andrew qualified in 1984 and holds post graduate qualifications from the Royal College of Surgeons. He works in the NHS prison dental service and has a private clinic limited to dental implants. He has NHS, private sector (practice and corporate level), and military experience.

After leaving the Army he was Area Dental Advisor (Scotland) for a leading corporate body and co-authored their UK Clinical Protocols. As an army officer he followed both clinical and staff and command careers. He was the first dental officer to qualify for the Army’s Advanced Command & Staff College (in-house ‘MBA’). Andrew was the Army Medical Services doctrine author (how to think about medical support) and deployed as Commander Medical UK Forces to the Gulf and Bosnia. He has detailed experience in the full spectrum of general dental practice and is active in the professional bodies.

As a NICE scholar, Andrew will examine whether current guidelines are crowding out patient benefit. Brief interventions are common in medicine but dental guidelines are increasingly comprehensive. A new patient assessment now mirrors the resource allocation of dentist time per prisoner per year. Andrew will convert current guidelines into a series of linked brief interventions to allow concurrent treatment.

Karen Brannigan

Safe & Effective Care Administration Manager

Karen graduated from Queens University Belfast in 2005 and has completed a number of additional courses including The Open University K101 Introduction to Health and Social Care and ILM Level 3 Leadership and Management. She joined the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust (SEHSCT) in 2011 and is currently the Safe and Effective Care Administration Manager. As part of this role Karen has the responsibility for the management of NICE Guidelines.

As a NICE Scholar Karen will undertake a project to review the implementation of our guidelines within the SEHSCT, ensuring relevant leads are adhering to local policies and our Into Practice guide. Recommendations will be made for improving awareness of the importance of their implementation and timeliness of submitting assurance responses. Findings may indicate areas where quality, improvement and innovation need to be developed.

It is hoped that her project will benefit the wider Health and Social Care sector through shared learning, implementing best practice and identifying common barriers. This would lead to the creation of improvement models suitable for the region.

Katie Currie

Public Health Principal

Katie graduated with a psychology degree and began a career in the voluntary sector with organisations working to combat social disadvantage. She then moved into local government and NHS roles including adult social care, children’s services with the majority of that time in public health. Katie has completed several post-graduate courses and achieved an MSc Public Health (Distinction). She was included on the UWE Dean’s list for academic excellence.

Katie works for Bristol City Council Public Health Team in the Strategic Programme for Adults and Older People with a focus on cancer prevention and older people. She has a particular interest in working across the local health and social care system to deliver improvements in public health.

As a NICE Scholar, Katie will look at how voluntary and community sector organisations (VCSO) use our guidance when providing interventions that promote the independence and mental wellbeing of older people in Bristol. This work will also identify the role of public health teams in supporting VCSO to deliver public health interventions at a time when local government will be delivering less and enabling more.

Lavanya Diwakar

Research Fellow in Health Economics and Consultant in Immunology

Lavanya is currently pursuing a Wellcome Trust funded PhD in Health economics at the University of Birmingham. Her PhD research is focussed on evaluating paediatric allergy pathways in the West Midlands.

As a NICE Scholar, she will be working with her mentors to develop a decision analytical model looking at possible pathways for delivery of paediatric allergy services in the region. She aims to incorporate current evidence regarding allergy service delivery pathways alongside data from her research, including epidemiological data and survey data regarding parent preferences for local services into the model. This approach could help us understand the most efficient and cost-effective ways of delivering these services in the region.

Min Ven Teo

Primary care pharmacist

Min graduated from the Welsh School of Pharmacy, Cardiff University and spent his early career in community pharmacy. At the same time, he pursued a masters degree in Health Technology Assessment and Management under the Ulysses Programme, a collaboration of Universitat de Barcelona, University of Toronto, Université de Montréal & Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore. In 2016, he moved to work in a general practice (GP) as a primary care pharmacist and is currently training to be an independent prescriber.

As a primary care pharmacist, Min's main role involves working in a multidisciplinary team to optimise medications and manage patients with chronic health conditions, including the elderly living in care homes. His other administrative roles involve keeping the practice up to date on NICE guidelines, MHRA updates, QOF targets and supporting in clinical audits.

As a NICE scholar, Min aims to use NICE guidelines to enhance the practice antibiotic prescribing via telephone triage system. Demonstrating the contribution a GP based primary care pharmacist can have on the wider healthcare ecosystem.

Nicola Vousden

Obstetrics and Gynaecology registrar

Nicola is currently out of programme completing a PhD at King's College London. As part of this she is coordinating a trial on the use of a novel vital sign device in routine maternity care to improve the detection and management of pre-eclampsia and shock in 10 low-resource settings (CRADLE 3 Trial). She is passionate about the challenges of translating evidence into clinical practice and the impact of context on clinical practice.

As a NICE Scholar, Nicola will evaluate the implementation in South London of our quality standard on hypertension in pregnancy and identify potential barriers that contribute to variation in practice.

Rebecca Birch

Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Cancer Epidemiology

Rebecca has a PhD in Cancer Epidemiology, focussing on age related variations in the epidemiology and management of cancer in teenage and young adult patients. Her current work at the University of Leeds aims to exploit routine health data. Quantifying, understanding and describing the influence of age on the incidence, tumour characteristics, diagnosis, treatment, survival and long-term outcomes of several cancers, including ovarian tumours

As a NICE Scholar, Rebecca will use national, population based, data to examine to what extent treatment guidelines are adhered to in the setting of ovarian cancer. She also aims to determine factors, such as age and stage, which may be associated with any differences observed.

Rebecca Hall

General Practitioner

Rebecca is a qualified GP based in London and divides her time been clinical work as a GP at Mawbey Group Practice and working for North West London CCGs on health wellbeing and prevention. She has previously undertaken a Darzi Fellowship and also worked in a rural hospital in South Africa.

As a GP, Rebecca is passionate about improving HIV sexual and reproductive health in primary care and is a Clinical Fellow for Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGPs) in this area. Unfortunately, undiagnosed HIV and late diagnoses remains a challenge and there is significant evidence that despite people accessing primary care, HIV is missed.

As a NICE Scholar, Rebecca will be working in collaboration with RCGP, Public Health England (PHE), Terence Higgins Trust (THT) and Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health to improve and normalise HIV testing in at risk groups. She will be undertaking an implementation project, 'Health Catch Up', in GP surgeries across the UK. This online system offers screening tests to patients depending on their risk factors and in accordance with NICE and PHE guidelines. It particularly focuses on HIV testing in high risk groups that may not believe themselves at risk or traditionally get tested as well as normalising the offer of HIV testing with testing for other conditions.

Rebecca hopes that this holistic and innovative approach will not only help address undiagnosed HIV but a range of other conditions.

Richard Ma

General Practitioner

Richard is a GP in London and an honorary clinical research fellow at Department of Primary Care and Public Health at Imperial College London. His main research interest is in sexual and reproductive health. He recently completed an NIHR In-Practice Fellowship to examine contraception and abortions data using electronic health records from general practices (Clinical Practice Research Datalink – CPRD).

As a NICE Scholar, he will explore the barriers and facilitators to implement our guidance on long acting reversible contraception (LARC) across England. This study will contribute to a larger portfolio of research on how to improve timely access to contraception, including LARC, in general practice.


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2016-2017 scholars

Caroline Beattie

Patient Safety & Quality Manager

Caroline Beattie graduated as a physiotherapist from the University of Ulster (Jordanstown) in 1996. She has completed a number of post graduate courses including a MSSc in Occupational Health and Safety and is a Chartered Member of the Institute of Occupational Health and Safety. She has worked in a variety of physiotherapy, safety and governance roles and is currently employed as Patient Safety & Quality Manager within the Southern Health & Social Care Trust. One of the key responsibilities within her role is to facilitate the implementation and monitoring of NICE guidelines within the organisation.

As a NICE Scholar Caroline will undertake a project to review the current processes for the implementation of NICE guidelines and identify from evidence based practice the key principles that underpin an effective, well-designed and communicable implementation programme. The key objective of the project will be to make recommendations for improving awareness, knowledge and implementation of NICE guidelines within the SHSCT thereby ensuring there is a positive safety culture for delivering safe, effective and quality care. It is hoped that the learning from this NICE scholarship programme will also benefit the region and may support other local health care organisations to strengthen their NICE processes for implementation and monitoring.

Caroline Forde

Medical oncology specialist registrar

Caroline Forde is a medical oncology specialist registrar and first year Cancer Research UK funded clinical research fellow at the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology, Queen’s University Belfast.

She is passionate about improving the quality, safety and consistency of neutropenic sepsis management as it remains a common and potentially life-threatening complication of systemic anti-cancer treatment. Over the last four years she has played a key role implementing change locally in the Belfast Trust to improve initial neutropenic sepsis management.

Caroline’s research currently centres on optimising low risk neutropenic sepsis management and predicting response to antibiotic treatment in low risk adult cancer patients.

Her project with NICE will work to address some of the evidence gaps identified by the NICE neutropenic sepsis guideline development group. She aims to provide an updated understanding of current UK neutropenic sepsis incidence, management and outcomes. She will also assess the impact of NICE guidance on treatment approaches and explore current clinician attitudes to risk stratification and management.

Jasmin Islam

Specialist Registrar in Infectious Disease and Medical Microbiology

Jasmin is a NIHR ACF Specialist Registrar in Infectious Diseases and Medical Microbiology with an interest in hospital acquired infection and antibiotic resistance. Antimicrobial resistance is a major public health risk recognised by the UK government and World Health Organisation (WHO), leading to mounting healthcare costs, treatment failure and deaths. Within the UK, over and inappropriate antibiotic use is a major driver of resistance.

Jasmin will use the NICE Scholarship to develop and pilot an evidence-based clinical decision tool to promote the safe reduction of unnecessary antibiotic prescribing in acute respiratory infection, which remains the commonest indication for antibiotics in hospital. This work supports the implementation of recent NICE guidance on antimicrobial stewardship and will be undertaken at Brighton and Sussex University Hospital. A key component of the project is identification of the barriers to changing established antibiotic stewardship in clinical practice.

To facilitate this, a working group of clinicians, pharmacists and patients will explore novel ideas around improving education within the Trust that includes the use of antibiotic prescribing champions. The final part of the scholarship will evaluate the contribution of procalcitonin to algorithm driven antibiotic stewardship interventions.

Mathew Sewell

Consultant spine surgeon

Mathew Sewell is a consultant spine surgeon specializing in the management of adults and children with complex spinal conditions including those affected by deformity, neuromuscular conditions, trauma and tumours. He works at the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough. Mathew graduated from Bristol University in 2004 with an MB ChB and 1st class BSc in Neuroscience. He completed orthopaedic training in London and fellowship training in Brisbane, Australia.

Mathew has over 70 published papers, is a expert peer reviewer for leading medical journals, an academic clinical lecturer at the University of Queensland, and has been an ambassador for the British Orthopaedic Association and European Paediatric Orthopaedic Society in Europe and South America. In his spare time, Mathew enjoys leading charity expeditions to remote locations, such as Mount Kilimanjaro.

As a NICE scholar, Mathew will analyse quality of life and participation outcomes following growth rod treatment for children with early onset scoliosis, providing new information to inform existing guidelines.

Matthew Sullivan

Senior Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University

Matthew is a Senior Lecturer in Animal Behaviour at Manchester Metropolitan University. He has Parkinson’s and is currently a lay member on the Parkinson’s GDG. After his diagnosis, Matthew began to design and deliver outreach activities which aimed to improve scientific literacy in the Parkinson’s population. That experience then led him to working closely with Parkinson’s UK and other organisations helping to drive forward a range of PPI activities.

As a NICE Scholar, Matthew will continue this theme by involving current lay members of GDGs in the production of training materials for new lay GDG members.

Pooja Shah

Specialty Registrar in Anaesthesia

Pooja graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2009 and has since gathered a broad experience of clinical medicine across specialist and general medicine firms as a junior doctor. She is interested in quality improvement and has completed the Darzi fellowship in Leadership and Clinical Medicine during which she was involved in understanding and improving pan-London relationships in liaison psychiatry so as to improve the quality of care delivered to patients.

Pooja currently works as a Specialty Registrar in Anaesthesia at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust. As a NICE Scholar, Pooja will aim to implement a pre-emptive and pro-active approach to identifying the older at risk patient presenting for elective surgery in order to be able to carry out individualised strategies to improve those patients’ perioperative care and outcomes. She is interested in being able to challenge attitudes and shift the traditional healthcare professional’s focus from the cure to the prevention of negative patient experiences and outcomes.

Richard Whitehouse

Consultant Clinical Psychologist

Dr Richard Whitehouse is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist who completed his clinical training at The Universities of Coventry and Warwick, graduating in 2004.

After initially working in LD Forensic Services in England, he moved to Northern Ireland in 2006 to work for the Northern Health and Social Care Trust. Richard has a specific interest in working with people with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour and leads the Northern Trust’s ‘Positive Behaviour Support Service’. This is a multi-disciplinary service aimed at reducing levels of challenging behaviour by using Positive Behaviour Support strategies. The philosophy of the service is to use the least restrictive approaches, promote quality of life for service users and to maintain and improve local community placements.

Richard is also an Honorary Lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast and contributes to the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology’s learning disability teaching as well as offering placements to Trainee Clinical Psychologists. Richard is also Senior Professional Lead for the RESPECT Training Programme (organised though NAViGO) within the Northern Trust and helps to deliver training to all staff working within the Trust’s Learning Disability Services.

As a NICE Scholar, Richard will be undertaking an implementation project to ensure that NICE Guidelines (NG11) ‘Challenging behaviour and learning disabilities: prevention and interventions for people with learning disabilities’ are being implemented within the Northern Health and Social Care Trust’s Learning Disability Service.

Rory Sheehan

Academic Clinical Fellow

Rory is an academic clinical fellow and higher trainee in psychiatry of intellectual disability at University College London. His research interests are psychotropic medication prescribing and improving evidence-based care for people with intellectual disability and co-morbid health conditions, including investigating how health services can be best delivered to achieve optimal outcomes in this group.

Sarah Onida

Clinical Research Fellow and Specialty Registrar in Vascular Surgery

Sarah is a vascular surgical registrar, currently in an out of programme placement to complete a PhD on the epidemiology and mechanistic processes involved in the development of varicose veins. She is passionate about improving the care for patients with venous disease, and has authored numerous publications on the subject, including contributing to the European Guidelines on the management of chronic venous disease. Sarah is particularly interested in population studies analysing regional trends and differences in the delivery of healthcare.

As a NICE Scholar, Sarah will assess referral and treatment patterns for patients with varicose veins in England by interrogating primary and secondary care databases. This will provide an assessment of the impact of NICE guideline implementation, regional compliance with guidance, cost analysis, regional differences in referral and procedure patterns and factors associated with this.

Varicose veins are extremely common and have an important, negative impact on quality of life. The aim of this project is to assess guideline implementation, identify factors associated with regional variation in healthcare delivery (including healthcare inequalities) and improve quality of care by supporting the implementation of evidence based guidance.

Simon Jones

Lead Behavioural Practitioner, Consensus Group

Simon Jones is Consensus Group’s Lead Behavioural Practitioner . He is a qualified Applied Behavioural Analysist and a Consultant Learning Disability Nurse. He is also BILD PBS consultant, an Expert Witness, a PHSO Consultant and a Tizard Associate.

Before working for Consensus, Simon worked for Care UK and Lifeways Group. He has also worked for and managed NHS community learning disability teams, NHS outreach teams, LD Residential Homes and LD Supported Living schemes, specialising in providing support to people whose behaviours inhibit their quality of life.

Simon has a master’s degree from the Tizard Centre at the University of Kent in LD and Autism and two first class degrees in Applied Behavioural Analysis and Community Nursing as well as being a learning disability nurse. In 2008 he was appointed a Queens Nurse and is published author in his field of expertise.


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