Sam Finnikin describes his experience of being a NICE Scholar
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.
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
- specialist registrars
- senior nurses
- pharmacists and allied health professionals
- healthcare scientists
- service improvement leads
- public health and social care specialists
- psychological professionals
- lay members
- those working in the charitable and voluntary sector.
Support from senior advisers
We've appointed 2 senior advisers to oversee the programme.
MA MB PhD MRCPsych FFPH PGCertMedEd
John is a public health physician who works
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.
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
Our current scholars
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
As a NICE Scholar Mark will undertake a project to assess the implementation of our guidance on
Roz qualified as a Pharmacist in 2008 after graduating with a first class MPharm degree. She is the Director of Pharmacy for
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
Roz has been a pharmacist topic expert for
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
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
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
As a NICE Scholar, Alisa will be reviewing community neuro-rehabilitation services across South East
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
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
David’s scholarship work will focus on shared decision making. He will bring a fresh perspective to the Shared Decision Making Collaborative.
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
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
As a NICE scholar, Roshelle will be undertaking an implementation project to ensure that NICE Guideline (NG87) Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: diagnosis and management
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
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
As a NICE
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
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.
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
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.
Senior Community Dentist
Are current guidelines crowding out patient benefit?
Andrew identified 4 main issues with guidelines for prisoners, where resources allow 42 minutes dentist time per year:
- Guidelines for new patient oral health assessment can take 40 minutes. If followed rigidly this would leave no time for treatment.
- Guidelines for treatment planning assume patient engagement with little, or no, advice for what to do for patients that do not engage.
- Guidelines for permitted treatment restrict some dental treatments and primary prevention to children, e.g. fissure sealants but prison lifestyle causes these issues in adults.
- Increased regulation, discourages divergence from current guidelines even though they are inappropriate for many prisoners.
The Statement of Dental Remuneration (SDR) is the Scottish NHS guideline for permitted treatment. It is administered by NHS National Services Scotland (NSS). Andrew has presented his finding to NSS and they agree that the narratives and provisos of the SDR do not apply for prisons so will now allow full clinical freedom to provide prevention and treatment not usually permitted for adults.
After presenting to Deputy Chief Dental Officer (DCDO), the CDO will write to Clinical Directors within the Public Dental Service to formalise the agreement. As well as a range of meetings with a whole host of influential individuals Andrew has presented at several national conferences.
Andrew plans to continue to use his work to influence change post the Scholarship. For example, he has arranged meetings with the British Dental Association Prison Lead, the Chief Dental Officer for England and their lead for vulnerable groups.
Safe & Effective Care Administration Manager
Review of South Eastern Trust’s (SET’s) implementation process for NICE guidelines
Karen developed a data collection tool for nominated leads to complete that looked at whether SET’s policies and processes around managing NICE guidance were being adhered to. She also identified the governance facilitators that receive the highest volume of guidelines. Karen met with them to assess their internal processes and cross reference findings within the SET policy and selected recommendations from NICE’s into practice guide.
11 out of 12 areas across the trust returned the tool. 10% of areas were unaware that they could consult upon draft guidelines via SET’s nominated stakeholder 27% were not aware of who the nominated stakeholder was and 55% were not aware of the NICE into practice guide. In terms of adherence, 82% of leads disseminated new guidance to the relevant lead with 1 week.
A SharePoint system was introduced to streamline processes, pulling all relevant information together in one central repository for each guideline. Staff can also view a database which details compliance across the entire region. All DoH bi monthly assurance templates are now completed electronically. The system shows which guidelines have been recently released, those out for consultation and those in development over the next quarter. The system has been well accepted and accessed widely. Karen is arranging a session with the 12 directorates and NICE field team in an attempt to challenge negative attitudes to NICE that came out of the survey.
Public Health Principal
How are the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE sector) using NG32 older people: independence and mental wellbeing?
Katie quickly found that the VCSE sector in Bristol were not using NG32 and very few of them had used any NICE guidance. The project was then adapted to look at evidence based practice in the VCSE. Katie carried out a series of interviews and was able to use these to highlight how NICE guidance might support the work of these organisations.
Katie has arranged an event for VCSE to increase their knowledge of how and why to use NICE products, which the field team will attend. She has already run an event for colleagues within Bristol City Council (15 attendees) to disseminate the learning. Katie is setting up a meeting between NICE and the Public Health leadership team. The adult social care team have also expressed an interest in meeting with NICE.
Katie has used Grounded Theory to analyse the data and has produced a report which she hopes to publish. Katie has found that in a changing local health and social care system, public health teams need to reconsider how and where they are best placed to improve and protect the health of the population they serve. Public health teams need to refocus from traditional roles as deliverers and commissioners to becoming enablers and facilitators.
VCSE organisations are ideally placed to reach those most likely to have the poorest health and it is recommended that the role of public health teams should include supporting the VCSE sector to understand how to identify and implement EBP, measure the impact of their services and develop health promoting practices. Additionally, developing relationships with VCSE organisations can facilitate a sharing of their expertise and intelligence into and across the health and social care system.
Research Fellow in Health Economics and Consultant in Immunology
Pathways for paediatric allergy in the West Midlands
Lavanya’s project assessed existing services for paediatric allergy within the West Midlands (WM) and ascertained parent preferences for the delivery of services in the region. NICE guidance discusses recognising symptoms of food allergy and lays out the situations in which referral to secondary care would be appropriate. However, the pathways for service delivery in the WM region are not well defined, which can pose problems for the implementation of this and other guidelines in the region.
Paediatricians were surveyed online using SurveyMonkey. To understand the preferences of end users for specialist services, a discrete choice experiment (DCE) was carried out. 4 pilots were carried out to finalise the questions. An unselected sample of 10,000 parents in the region were sent a weblink to the questionnaire and results were analysed using Stata 14 software.
11 out of 15 trusts offering paediatric allergy services responded. Pathways varied considerably. There were 280 parents that completed the discrete choice experiment in its entirety. Parent preferences were for a consultation with a consultant trained in allergy then for a specialist nurse rather than a consultant not trained in allergy. Parents would like to see improved online information through websites like NHS Choices in preference to written or verbal information. Respondents preferred to have supportive care (dietician/dermatology nurse) within the same clinic appointment.
It is hoped that the output from the DCE can be combined with the survey of physicians and data from primary and secondary care database analyses to propose a decision analytical model that can be used to estimate the cost effectiveness of various pathways for delivery of allergy services.
Min Ven Teo
Primary care pharmacist
Implementing NG15 antimicrobial stewardship in a GP practice setting
The project was led by Min as a Primary Care Pharmacist in a GP practice and looked at the effect on antibiotic prescribing of moving from an ordinary GP practice model to a clinician-first telephone triage system.
The project used sampling and collected data over a 3 month period. The audit showed that the telephone triage system had not impacted the quality or quantity of antibiotics prescribed. Diagnosis, advice and rationale were sometimes missing on a patient’s record. There was a lack of delayed antibiotic prescribing and duration of liquid antibiotics was not clearly stated. A high proportion of antibiotics were prescribed for 7 days, which is not in line with guidance.
Findings were shared with prescribers within the practice and the CCG Antibiotics Stewardship Group. A default duration was also added to the IT system for commonly used antibiotics. A re-audit presented a 27% reduction in 7 day prescribing and a 22% increase in 5 day prescribing. The local CCG is now looking to support all practices to adjust default prescribing duration for commonly used antibiotics.
Obstetrics and Gynaecology registrar
Quality improvement in pre-eclampsia care
Nicola determined the extent to which there is variation in compliance with quality statement 35:5. She did this by auditing the proportion of women with pre-eclampsia that are managed with inpatient or outpatient care across South Thames Deanery, Kent Surrey and Sussex. Stakeholder focus groups were used to explore the reasons for variation. Women’s views in relation to adherence were explored using a patient and public questionnaire.
Results showed a large variation in how women were managed ranging from predominantly outpatients to all women treated as inpatients. The focus group of 32 participants (10 consultants, 6 midwives, 2 medical physicians, 7 senior and 5 junior trainees) felt that clinician experience rather than NICE guidance informed decision making.
Women’s preferences were highlighted as important but this was challenged by others who felt that the evidence for being able to predict severe events based on symptoms was poor. All agreed unanimously that they would be unlikely to change practice until further research identified who was at greatest risk and this was used to update NICE guidance. Despite patient preference being cited as a reason for deviating from guidance, most women reported not feeling involved in the decision-making regarding where their care occurs. Results will be fed back to the NICE hypertension committee in May 2018.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Cancer Epidemiology
Variations in ovarian cancer treatment rates
Rebecca worked with surgical teams in Leeds to determine the key combinations of surgical codes of interest and to discuss the most appropriate way to examine variation using routine data.
Due to delays in accessing the ovarian cancer dataset, methodologies were tested using a colorectal cancer dataset. The extent of variation in surgical management of colorectal cancer in relation to age was examined.
Health Catch Up: normalising screening for HIV and Hepatitis B and C in primary care
Rebecca Hall has been working on Health Catch Up (HCU), a tool which can be used by patients or clinicians to promote evidence based screening with a focus on those who were born or lived abroad in primary care.
It offers holistic screening to those most at risk and that are not currently reached by screening methods, such as online sexual health clinics. Test recommendations are based on patient characteristics such as age, gender, ethnicity, BMI, country of birth and having lived abroad for more than six months. IT also considers recent testing to prevent over-testing. Screening tests include HBA1c, rubella, haemoglobinopathy, HIV, Hep B, Hep C, latent TB and cholesterol. They are mainly based on NICE guidelines or Public Health England recommendations.
To date, the development of a clinical based algorithm is complete and is currently being integrated into the website that can be utilised by patients to request evidence based screening. A clinical tool version has been significantly upgraded to prompt clinicians to offer testing as part of new patient registration, NHS Health checks or opportunistically.
Implementing NICE guidelines on contraception – what is the reality?
Richard designed 2 surveys about implementing NICE guidelines on contraceptive provision. One survey was for practitioners, such as GPs/ practice nurses and doctors/nurses in sexual health services. The other was for sexual health commissioners – both groups based in London. The surveys were piloted with commissioners and practitioners and modifications made before going live. The surveys used a SurveyMonkey platform and were disseminated by email and social media.
The majority of contraception in London is commissioned by local authorities from GPs and sexual health services. Male and female sterilisation is commissioned by Clinical Commissioning Groups. Structural, financial and relationship issues with providers were cited as barriers to effective commissioning. Results showed that clinicians offer a full range of contraception but are impeded by a lack of knowledge, confidence and training in some methods. LARC is a popular choice but more education and training is needed. Clinicians valued training more than incentives.
Patient Safety & Quality Manager
Caroline Beattie graduated as a physiotherapist from the University of Ulster (Jordanstown) in 1996. She has completed a number of
As a NICE
Medical oncology specialist registrar
Caroline Forde is a medical oncology specialist registrar and
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
Caroline’s research currently centres on optimising
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.
Specialist Registrar in Infectious Disease and Medical Microbiology
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
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
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
As a NICE scholar, Mathew will analyse
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
Lead Behavioural Practitioner, Consensus Group
Simon Jones is Consensus Group’s Lead Behavioural
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.