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This page provides a list of biographies from those senior doctors who have been interviewed regarding choice of career path and speciality.


Professor Ruth Chambers OBE, MD, FRCGP

Retired GP

I first contemplated being a doctor in my last year of secondary school when a friend picked medicine in her University application form – and I thought ‘If Sarah can then I will too.’ I hedged my bets by also applying for pharmacy & agriculture college if my A level grades were really low. My A levels were good enough for Nottingham University Medical School (1970) and I absorbed their community ethos, where unusually in those days community doctors and GPs were seen as valued doctors, and not necessarily just the career paths for a doctor who was unsuccessful in entering hospital medical specialties.

As I worked as a junior doctor in hospital I became aware of the ‘control freak’ nature of hospital bosses to hospital medical consultants. I thought it would be boring to have a narrow specialty where I provided the ‘same old/same old’ medical care week after week and so I opted for general practice where I thought I could be more my own boss and have a diverse career with a wide spectrum of patients and health conditions. That led to four year GP specialty training in Bristol, alongside which I had 2 children for whom my husband paused his career to be the house-parent whilst I worked long medic shifts. I moved to a salaried GP post for three years (where I learnt first hand about prescription fraud – then shared those insights in a lead role with the Department of Health some years later, leading to the national NHS fraud system being established). Then I shifted to a GP partnership in Stone, Staffordshire for 10 years, where I developed my research interest alongside, undertaking an Masters degree that converted to a doctorate over 8 academic years, focused on doctors’ health. This led to a national Department of Health funded programme too in association with the Royal College of GPs.

Since then I have had many fixed-term national roles with the NHS, Royal Colleges, Charities, NICE alongside my GP career, always with a focus on sharing the learning – in publications, at conferences (across UK and the world- eg USA, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan and more) and moved from being an employed University professor at Staffordshire University, to honorary posts at Staffordshire and Keele Universities. With this interest in medical education, I was appointed as Director of Postgraduate training across the West Midlands for GP, nursing and other primary care specialties.

I’ve expanded my interests and roles to designing and leading on funded quality improvement programmes at scale – mainly focused on primary care (for which I got an OBE in 2013) but also other NHS organisations and social care, with an underpinning thread of patient self-care and empowerment.  Until recently I was Clinical Chair of Stoke-on-Trent CCG and I retired as a practising GP after 40+ years as a medic at the frontline. For the last three years I have been a clinical lead for digital primary care transformation across Staffordshire; and digital upskilling of clinicians and social workers and now social prescribers - creating 500 or so digital champions across England, and improving digital literacy of local patients (including support for refugees and asylum seekers), developing apps with a co-design approach, deploying personal digital assistants such as Alexa Echo Show to those in need for their health & wellbeing with external funds.

Over my career I have written 73 books (yes 73!!) –mainly for health care teams, some for the public on health- back pain/healthy heart/work stress; and written many health articles in medical magazines and my local newspaper.


Dr Lizzie Cottrell MRCGP, PhD

GP, Academic

I remember the moment I chose medicine. I was walking through the town I grew up in with my mum, I was contemplating which A-levels I would do and it was likely that my GCSE grades would be good. My mum highlighted that it would be therefore possible to be a doctor, it was a lightbulb moment. From that point on there was never a career that I wanted to do other than general practice. It combined science with my love of understanding how things worked and interacting with people; I had also always enjoyed watching hospital and medical programmes! I chose A levels I didn’t really enjoy because I needed them and I supplemented the necessary A-levels with a psychology A-level evening class which I loved. I was fascinated to see what I was learning playing out in actions around me and gaining a much deeper understanding of why people behave they way they do.
I have no family members who are in the medical profession, so as soon as I could I got myself into that environment. I first embarked on a weekly work experience placement at my own general practice before taking on a voluntary once a week role at my local community hospital. I took patients food and drink, made their beds, chatted to them and it was during this time I saw a dead body for the first time. When I was 16yr old, I started working as a hospital domestic at the weekends, I really enjoyed interacting with the patients and it made me develop a strong stomach! Once I turned 18yr old I became a healthcare support worker in the hospital at weekends and holidays, and continued this into year 3 medical school. I worked predominantly on an orthopaedic ward in which there were three main groups of patients; older adults who had fallen and broken a hip, many of whom also had dementia, those who had come in for planned joint replacements, and trauma cases. This gave me exposure to managing people from diverse backgrounds with multiple needs. I started to develop my medical knowledge by reading up on conditions I was hearing about on the ward and it became really apparent how good care required all members of the team to fulfil their role in a meaningful way. I liked doing double shifts so I saw my patients through their full day, getting them up and washed, fed three meals and put to bed having made them a night time drink. I liked that I understood that individual person, how they were and was part of their life for that day. While it is a different type of continuity, there is this sense now as I am a GP, that people let you into their life, that you look after them over time and that you start to build a mental map of their about their networks of family and friends.
During my training and as a junior doctor, my love of general practice was not swayed. I wanted to give care in a private, personal environment over time. I wanted to watch my patients grow from babies to children and beyond, I wanted to look after multiple generations of the same family and I wanted a variety in the ages of patients I looked after. General Practice always got a bad name in the hospital elements of my training but I was very lucky to have some excellent trainers, working in a variety of practice settings. This showed me the diversity that General Practice can offer. Initially I was not sure if I wanted to be a Partner, however, during the latter stages of my training I began to see the autonomy that being a GP Partner could provide. I wanted to be able to spot something not working well, or an area of care or service delivery that was not ideal, and be able to change it. While you can feed into strategy and service delivery as a salaried GP I didn’t feel as free as I do now to lead changes and I really value this. I now see my practice team as an extension of my family, I care for them as people as well as employees and I am proud of our collective achievements.
I undertook a combined clinical and academic (research) post within West Midlands Deanery for my Foundation Year 2 training, and subsequently for my GP training. This combined GP training post should have been 4 years long but I had two children, worked part time during this period and had major surgery on my hip, therefore I extended it to around 7 years! However, this did mean that when I qualified I felt that I hit the ground running as a salaried GP, working two days a week clinically and two days completing my PhD at Keele University. I moved from a large training practice (11,400 patients) to a small practice (3,500 patients) with one full time GP. This was excellent for my development as I had to take responsibility for care when the GP was on leave, with support from a locum. The opportunity came up for me to go back to my final training practice to be a partner and I jumped at it. The practice had a strong academic background and a significant focus on quality improvement, it allowed me to formally combine my academic work with my clinical work.  In the last four years I have co-led my practice to become the first Keele University Academic General Practice, been promoted to Senior Lecturer in General Practice at Keele University and was appointed as the topic advisor for the NICE Osteoarthritis guideline revision which is currently in progress. I have lead and been part of successful research, evaluation and implementation projects predominantly in the area of primary care quality improvement and the primary care workforce delivery. I have published clinical quality improvement work, something I would not have been able to do anything like as easily without my academic training.
Having worked three clinical days and two academic days a week for the past four years, I am now moving back to full time clinical care. I will be providing clinical sessions four days a week and have a week on business development. Primary care is always changing, recently, not only has COVID changed things but the way care is delivered is also changing; practices are working together within Primary Care Networks and now we have the new Integrated Care Systems. My partners and I do not want to cruise through these changes, we want to be part of shaping and contributing to them to make sure we do the best by our patients and staff. My impending transition into full time clinical work will provide opportunity to give the energy and senior leadership which is required at this time.

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Professor Zafar Iqbal FFPH, MRCGP, DCH, MBBS

Public Health Consultant

Zafar Iqbal is currently an Associate Medical Director Public Health of a large Community NHS Trust providing mental health, a wide range of community services and social care. He has 8 years’ experience as a Director of Public Health and was the Medical Director of a Community NHS Trust.   He is a Visiting Professor at Staffordshire University and a founding Board Member of the Centre for Health and Development which aims to reduce health inequalities through applied research. He has published several books and has been involved in research on CVD and NHS health checks programme. He is a member of the national Public health England Expert Scientific and Clinical Advisory Panel for NHS Health Checks. He has been on an External Advisory Panel for the Health Disparities Unit at University Alabama Birmingham USA. He chairs the Faculty of Public Health Pakistan Special Interest Group and supports a PHE project in Pakistan.  He has been a Board member of the Faculty of Public Health and held the position of Assistant Registrar. He is currently the Registrar for the UK Public Health Register.Zafar Iqbal is currently an Associate Medical Director Public Health of a large Community NHS Trust providing mental health, a wide range of community services and social care. He has 8 years’ experience as a Director of Public Health and was the Medical Director of a Community NHS Trust.   He is a Visiting Professor at Staffordshire University and a founding Board Member of the Centre for Health and Development which aims to reduce health inequalities through applied research. He has published several books and has been involved in research on CVD and NHS health checks programme. He is a member of the national Public health England Expert Scientific and Clinical Advisory Panel for NHS Health Checks. He has been on an External Advisory Panel for the Health Disparities Unit at University Alabama Birmingham USA. He chairs the Faculty of Public Health Pakistan Special Interest Group and supports a PHE project in Pakistan.  He has been a Board member of the Faculty of Public Health and held the position of Assistant Registrar. He is currently the Registrar for the UK Public Health Register.

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Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard FRCGP, PhD, FLSW

GP, Academic

Helen is a GP Principal, Chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC, the umbrella body for all Royal Colleges and Faculties), Chair of the Board of the National Academy for Social Prescribing (NASP) and Professor of GP Education. She was Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) until Nov 2019. 

Helen went to medical school intending to specialise in gynaecological oncology and found that she enjoyed every clinical speciality she encountered. As a junior doctor, she changed her career direction and took up academic general practice – difficult at the time but “The most wonderful swerve of my life in terms of career, fulfilment and opportunities.” Prior to training as a GP, she had worked in Obstetrics and Gynaecology for several years and this experience shaped her clinical and academic aspirations. 

She began working at the University of Birmingham's Department of Primary Care in 2000, while she was a GP registrar. She gained a PhD in 2009; the subject was 'Variation in NHS Utilisation of Vault Cytology Tests in Women post-hysterectomy’. Her diverse research interests have spanned gynaecological cancer screening, all aspects of women's health, epidemiology and data linkage studies. 

Helen had various academic roles including a stint as Head of Primary Care (undergraduate) in the Medical School of the University of Birmingham, Clinical Director of a Trials unit and Head of GP Education prior to becoming RCGP Chair. She was also a trained personal mentor for ‘doctors in difficulty’ in the Midlands until 2016, a scheme supported by the West Midlands Deanery and RCGP Midland Faculty.

During her time as RCGP Chair, Helen had a high media profile with over 200 TV, 200 radio and 20,000 appearances in printed media (newspapers) and she led several major professional gains; including state backed indemnity for all NHS staff working in the community, a new vision for General Practice and implementation of significant financial and contractual improvements in GPs’ working lives.

As Chair of AoMRC she sits on numerous national committees including the National Escalation Pressures Panel, the review of digital healthcare and the NHS Net Zero Executive as well as a large number focussed on urgent reshaping of the NHS in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She is fully seconded away from the University of Birmingham for the duration of this role (2020-23). 

As Chair of the Board of NASP, she is helping to shape their direction, building strong partnerships, establishing an academic basis for the social prescribing movement and raising its profile.  Helen remains a part-time GP partner at The Westgate Practice in Lichfield.

She is naturally enthusiastic and dynamic with a sense of humour and plenty of pragmatism.

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Dr Simon J. Ellis


Consultant Neurologist & Medical Examiner

Doctor Ellis graduated in medicine from Cambridge and then undertook a number of general medical and neurology jobs in London before undertaking a Neurology Residency at Mount Sinai Medical Centre in New York becoming the Chief Resident in Neurology. He then returned to the UK becoming the Lecturer in neurology to Professor Newsome-Davis at Oxford and completed an MD into the metabolic complications of hyponatraemia. He also undertook research into stroke and its neuropsychological consequences including anosagnosia and visuospatial neglect. In 1994 he took up a Consultant Post at the North Staffordshire Royal Infirmary which became the University Hospital of North Midlands. He developed a general neurological practice with a particular interest in the neuropsychological manifestations of neurological illness. He was Chair of the research ethics committee and Director of the SHO training program before becoming the Clinical Director of Neurology and then of Neurosciences at (UHNM). In 20014 he became the Chair of the Division of Medicine. In 2018 he became Clinical Director of Finance before becoming a Medical Examiner and further developing his research and medicolegal practice. He continues an active research program into the non-motor complications of Parkinson’s Disease as well as other neuropsychological deficits in collaboration with colleagues at Keele University.
His neurological practice is general, but he specialises in the neurological complications of head injury, the diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome, neuropsychological complication of neurological illness in particular Parkinson’s Disease and medically unexplained neurological symptoms.

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Mr Neil Ashwood MBBS, BSc, MMed Ed, FRCS (Orth)

Trauma and Orthopaedics Consultant

As an orthopaedic surgeon I have learned not to take things for granted often meeting people at crisis points in their lives following trauma. I trained in London at University College and Middlesex Hospitals and was appointed consultant there before taking up a post in Upper limb Surgery in Burton. I have taken part in an outreach clinic for the past 10 years in general practice and have a busy quasi academic upper limb surgeon within the newly merged University Hospitals of Derby and Burton.
I have worked overseas in Australia on fellowship and as a conflict medicine doctor in Azerbaijan. I have published over 100 articles on diverse topics relevant within orthopaedics.
I have been Associate Medical Director, College Tutor and have a Masters in Medical Education from Warwick. I am senior lecturer at Aston University having helped develop a Master's programme in Orthopaedics. I have links with the Academic institute of Medicine at Wolverhampton University where I have been offered an Honorary Chair.

I am a keen ultra-distance runner and cyclist with 4 children, who keep me busier than at work.


Dr Ruth Kinston MBBS, CCT (Emergency Med.), MA

Emergency Medicine Consultant

Ruth currently works as an Emergency Medicine Consultant at University Hospital of North Midlands (UHNM) in Stoke-On-Trent. She is also the Co-Lead for fifth year medical students at Keele University and A & E Lead. Alongside this, she is engaged with qualitative educational research, and completed her MA in 2016 in Medical Education at Keele University. Her main research interests include: Supporting transition into professional practice and medical student assistants in the emergency department, particularly impact on student learning and student delivery. She also has experience in conducting qualitative research in utilising grounded theory, narrative analysis and realist techniques. Ruth also is involved with quantitative clinical research, especially with regards to the emergency department at UHNM. Studies include a National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) portfolio trials.

Ruth has also published a multitude of articles combining medicine, education and research, areas which she has clearly demonstrated strength in throughout her carreer.


Professor Fidelma O'Mahony MBChB, BAO, MRCOG

Obstetrics and Gynaecology Consultant

Professor Fidelma O’Mahony FRCOG is a consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology and Senior Lecturer in Medical Education at the University Hospital of North Midlands. She is also the undergraduate lead for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the UHNM Hospital Dean for Keele Medical School. She is year 4 clinical lead at Keele Medical School and has been involved in curriculum development and administration as well as undergraduate teaching since the medical school was established. Professor Fidelma O'Mahony is an Honorary Professor of Clinical Education and Gynaecology.
She is keen to promote links between undergraduate and postgraduate training in Obstetrics and Gynaecology and to develop academic and clinical learning opportunities across the speciality.

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Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones MBE

Public Health Consultant/Director ASC Health Integration & Wellbeing, Stoke on Trent Council

Paul has had a brilliant mixed career as a doctor. He has had 21 years in the Army, 11 years in the NHS and now nearly 9 years in Local Government after qualifying in Scotland in 1980. Paul moved across to do Medicine after leaving school and starting a law degree (there was no career guidance at school, so followed his Dad's steps who wanted his son to do Law at University). Paul went on to specialise in Public Health, partly because it fitted his moral/ethical compass but mainly because of the doors it opened in the Army to follow a Command and Staff path. Paul went on to command a field ambulance and a hospital.


Mr Raja Venkataraman MBBS, MS, MRCS, FRCS (Tr & Ortho), PGCME

Trauma and Orthopaedics Surgeon

I am currently working as a substantive consultant in Trauma and Orthopaedics at one of the largest NHS trusts in the country, University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation. My specialist interest includes lower limb hip and knee, primary and revision arthroplasty (joint replacement) surgery as well arthroscopic (keyhole) surgery, excluding soft tissue reconstruction. 

I am the Clinical Governance lead at Queens Hospital, Burton and an Honorary Senior Lecturer for the Leicester University. As a medical student block lead for the University, I run the orthopaedic undergraduate teaching and training programme. 

Having obtained both my basic medical and post graduate degree in orthopaedics from one of the top best, reputed institutions in India, Christian Medical College and Hospital, Vellore, I had a strong foothold to the start of my medical and specialist career, which began in 1992. The institution is known for its world class teaching and training for both undergraduate and post graduate training. As a substantive consultant and assistant professor in orthopaedics, my career in orthopaedics and trauma began 21 years ago in India. 

My passion for bone and joints stems from the fact that I was born into a family that made artificial limbs, orthotics and prosthetics for a living. Ever since I made it to medicine, I always wanted to study orthopaedics and trauma and in particular hips and knees. Wanting to specialise in joint replacement surgery and to advance my skills in this field, I made my move to the UK almost two decades ago. After returning to training again in the Northeast of England, I now have two post graduate degrees in trauma and orthopaedics across two continents and an extensive clinical experience. 

I undertook an advanced clinical fellowship training in hip and knee joint replacement surgery from an organization that performs over 5000 joint replacement a year, the Golden Jubilee National Hospital, Glasgow. Selected as a British Orthopaedic Association Travelling Clinical Fellow in trauma, I visited the Massachusetts General Hospital, for a clinical fellowship in trauma. Returning from Harvard, I joined the team of orthopaedic surgeons at University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust. 

Appointed as an Honorary senior lecturer for the Leicester university and a Medical Student Block lead for trauma and orthopaedics, I run the undergraduate programme of training for the medical students posted at the hospital and actively participate in their assessment at the university level. As a panel member for the National Specialist Training Recruitment into Orthopaedics and Trauma, I conduct the interviews for post graduate training and contribute to its design and development. With a successfully completed Post graduate Certificate in Medical Education, I am a qualified and Royal College of Surgeons recognised instructor for the European Trauma and Advanced Trauma Life Support course run nationally and across Europe. I am recognized and listed as an Educational Supervisor for the General Medical Council for both the Foundation and Core training of doctors entering post graduate surgical training. 

As a clinical governance leader for the trauma and orthopaedic department, (Queens Hospital, Burton) I ensure and cultivate an environment of reporting, investigating, learning from incidents of concern and facilitating Duty of Candour. 

Over the course of my career, I have not only honed my subspecialist skillset in trauma and lower limb primary and revision arthroplasty but also developed and maintained a strong track record in research with continual audit, quality improvement activities, peer-reviewed publications and several national and international presentations of topics relating to joint replacement surgery.

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Mr Balasubramaniam Ilango MBBS, DO, FRCS, FRCOphth, CertLRS

Ophthalmic Surgeon, Medical Director of Optimax

I currently work as a substantive consultant ophthalmic surgeon with specialist interest in Cornea & Lens Implants at the Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals NHS Trust, West Midlands. 

I started my medical career in Southern India; after graduating from Coimbatore Medical College and completing my postgraduate degree in Ophthalmology from Stanley Medical College, I came to the UK for further training. I successfully completed the Higher Specialist Training Programme from the West Midlands Region. I also had the opportunity to work at the St Paul's Eye Unit in Liverpool and Leicester Royal Infirmary as part of my training

I developed a sub-specialty interest in “Cornea” and had the opportunity to train at Moorfields Eye Hospital, London. I have performed over 740 corneal transplant procedures, >40000 cataract surgeries and >6000 Excimer laser refractive procedures. I regularly perform PK, DSAEK, DALK, femtosecond LASIK, LASEK, cross-linking treatments, premium lens implants, phakic ICL procedures, femtosecond cataract surgery etc. I have written chapters in Ophthalmic text books, attended various courses. I regularly train junior doctors and my training been rated as one of the best in the UK. 

I am a Royal College of Ophthalmologist certified Refractive Surgeon (Cert LRS). 

My other roles are as follows:

-Medical Director & Responsible Officer – Optimax Group, UK

-National Opinion Leader - Carl Zeiss Meditec

-Royal College of Ophthalmologists National Refractive Data Set: Working Group Member


  1. Chief Investigator - UK to the Novaglai - cyclosporine clinical trial.

  2. Co-Investigator - FACT Trial with Moorfields Eye Hospital (femtosecond Cataract Trial)

  3. Chief Investigator - XENIA Implant for Keratoconus – Clinical Trial, Gebauer, Germany

I have set up a Charity Eye Hospital in rural India. I regularly carry our sight saving eye operations free of charge to the poor people


Mr Behrad Barmayeh MBChB, MRCS (ENT), MSc (Oxon)

ENT Registrar

I am an ENT registrar (ST3 level) working in the West Midlands with an interest in medical education.

I moved to this country from Iran at the age of 17 as an international student to study A-Levels. I went from needing a dictionary by my side to achieving A*A*Aa. I then studied medicine at the University of Birmingham for 5 years before starting to work in the NHS as a junior doctor. I successfully secured a run-through ENT core surgical training post at the end of my Foundation training.

My jobs in Foundation Year (FY) 1, FY2, core surgical training (CST) 1 and CST 2 were also all within the West Midlands deanery, so I have grown “medi-roots” here!

I also undertook a part-time master’s degree in Evidence-Based Healthcare at the University of Oxford between 2017 to 2021 alongside my full-time work as a surgical trainee, which was a fruitful challenge.

I would be delighted to pass on my insight about any part of my journey to aspiring doctors and surgeons.

BIOGRAPHY: Team Members
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