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


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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)

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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

2017-2018 scholars

Andrew Mulford

Senior Community Dentist

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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2015-2016 scholars

Abi Jones

Paediatric Surgery Registrar, Nottingham Children's Hospital

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Transition from Paediatric to Adult Services has not been fully addressed within General Paediatric Surgery. Abi is passionate about adolescent patients being provided with excellent care continuing into adulthood. In response to this, and upcoming NICE transition guidelines, her project is to establish a transition pathway, along with education for patients, families and adult colleagues for the whole spectrum of patients, in particular those with congenital colorectal conditions such as Anorectal malformations and Hirschsprung's disease.

Carley King

Professional Adviser, Physiotherapist, The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy

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Carley works as a Professional Adviser at the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, the professional, educational and trade union body for physiotherapists across the UK. Her current UK wide role as a professional adviser entails supporting physiotherapists to implement research into practice, alongside promoting the role of physiotherapy in public health.

As a NICE Scholar, Carley aims to complete a project collating all NICE accredited respiratory physiotherapy recommendations into one document, with an accompanying step by step audit tool. She will also conduct a survey to assess how useful these documents are in helping physiotherapists implement evidence based guidelines. The report resulting from the project will make recommendations as to whether this approach is useful as a framework for other areas of physiotherapy, or other professions.

Gareth Hynes

Specialist registrar in respiratory medicine, Thames Valley Deanery

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He will use his scholarship to improve services for those with severe asthma in the Thames Valley region. Five per cent of patients with severe asthma use almost 50% of the NHS spend on asthma per year, some £1 billion. There are 50,000 admissions per year attributable to asthma, 75% of which are avoidable, and 3 deaths each day, 90% of which are avoidable.

Working with all members of the multi-disciplinary team to set up a severe asthma service it should be possible to substantially improve the care of this group of patients, preventing emergency admissions and reducing healthcare associated costs. NICE has provided guidelines on such a service, but there is no evidence on how successfully these guidelines are being implemented. He will assess uptake and institute a quality improvement programme in the Thames Valley Deanery aimed at improving care for this vulnerable cohort of patients.

Nick Carleton-Bland

Senior Registrar in Neurosurgery, North Western Deanery

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As a NICE Scholar, Nick will work with the Greater Manchester and Cheshire Cancer Network on metastatic spinal cord compression (MSCC). Specifically, he hopes to examine barriers to recognition of the condition by patient and clinicians alike, and in turn provide an intervention to improve access to the MSCC pathway.

Nicola Thorley

Senior Specialty Doctor Sexual Health and HIV Medicine, University Hospitals Birmingham 

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Nicola’s project with NICE aims to improve the uptake of Hepatitis B screening and vaccination in people attending the sexual health clinics who are at increased risk of Hepatitis B acquisition. She has set up the UHB NHS Foundation Trust Sexual Health Key performance Indicators for Hepatitis B screening and vaccination and will be using a real-time clinically-led benchmarking system to continuously monitor performance and drive the service improvement process. This project is framed within NICE public health guidance.

Nikoletta Panagiotopoulou

Clinical Research Fellow, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals

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Nikoletta will spend her time as a NICE Scholar focusing on fertility support offered to children, teenagers and young adults with cancer at the Great North Children’s Hospital, which is one of the largest children’s medical centres in the UK with a strong commitment to high quality children’s healthcare. Nikoletta is planning to audit her organisation’s current compliance with the NICE quality standards on fertility support for children and young adults with cancer and to identify barriers and facilitators to implementing NICE guidance. She aims to use knowledge produced to develop educational programmes that will allow for recommendations to be met.

Rachel Squires

Specialist Registrar, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Southmead Hospital

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Rachel will use her time as a NICE Scholar to assess the national implementation of NICE guidance on the management of ‘Ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage’ and to identify potential barriers to implementation. She aims to improve patient experience by ensuring standardisation of care received by patients experiencing pregnancy loss.

Rishi Mandavia

Otolaryngology NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow, Ear Institute University College London

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As a NICE Scholar Rishi will conduct a scoping exercise that will inform the development of a national registry of patients with surgically implanted hearing aids. This will facilitate the development of a patient focused registry that will help inform future NICE recommendations and drive future patient centred research. He will be collaborating with colleagues at King’s College London, the Farr Institute of Health Services Research and Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC).

Samuel Finnikin

Academic GP Registrar & Academic Clinical Fellow in General Practice

Handsworth Wood Medical Centre and University of Birmingham

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Sam is currently undertaking a master’s degree in clinical primary and community care. Sam is interested how research outcomes are translated into clinical practice and how clinical guidelines influence clinician’s behaviours. As a NICE scholar, Sam is looking to utilise ‘big data’ to examine how NICE guidelines are applied in primary care with a specific emphasis on lipid lowering guidance and cardiovascular risk scoring.

Stephen O’Brien

Specialist Registrar in Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Severn Deanery & North Bristol NHS Trust

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Stephen will spend his time as a NICE Scholar looking at how services are delivered to women with severe fear of childbirth. He will seek to understand how pregnant women perceive childbirth as a traumatic experience and how this affects their uptake of services. The project will be the first to study the delivery of NICE recommendations on provision of counselling and Caesarean delivery for women with fear of childbirth in the NHS.