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International Women’s Day: Introducing the Women Behind Connected Healthcare

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Meet the women taking on the challenge of improving the health and care sector: connecting care homes via satellite to boost access to healthcare provision.

As part of International Women’s Day 2021, we’re going to be talking about, and to, some of the incredible women involved in projects at the South West Centre of Excellence for Satellite Applications and how they are Choosing to Challenge the industries they work in. 

One of our key focuses at the centre is e-health and how satellite applications can benefit the healthcare industry. As part of this theme, we have been working on the “Connected Healthcare” project, which is led predominantly by twelve women from a huge variety of backgrounds. 

Connected Healthcare’s key aim is to connect care homes via satellite in order to improve access to healthcare provision across the South West and beyond. We’re looking forward to bringing you more details soon but, for now, we’re pleased to introduce you to some of the women leading the project…

Anna Mankee-Williams – Research Lead: 

Anna was born and bred in Redruth Cornwall. Anna went to London to complete her nurse and midwifery training, followed by 2 years in Ghana working on an integrated health project in a remote, rural area. On her return to the UK she completed a degree in Public Health Nursing and Health Visiting, working within the health sector in Cornwall until she moved to the Local Authority where she spent 11 years in senior partnership, commissioning and improvement roles always working across health, education and social care and across all ages. Now a senior research fellow with a focus on innovation in the health and wellbeing space, and as the eHealth solutions consultants for the SWCoESA programme Anna leads a number of research projects and is the lead senior research fellow for the Cornish element of the Connected Health care project working closely with all the partner organisations.

“I am excited not only by the CHC project and the innovation spot it is exploring with the space, care, health and business sectors but by the breadth and depth of experience and expertise that the partners bring to this space. I am especially delighted that this project has a predominance of women in key roles and contributing to such important developments at this time. It is a privilege to work alongside such an inspiring team.”

Dr Kat Hickey – Project Manager (on behalf of Goonhilly Earth Station):

Originally from Germany, Kat has an academic background in geophysics and volcanology that has brought her to the UK via New Zealand and Canada. Now Senior Business Development Manager at Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd, she has supported the team at Goonhilly in various functions through the last few years of significant growth of near space business, deep space capability, and data centre offering among others. Together with Anna Mankee-Williams, she successfully led the bid developed for UKSA/ESA for the CHC Project from the inception of the idea through to ongoing delivery. On behalf of Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd, she serves as overall project manager and leads the consortium of 8 other partner organisations.

“Having the opportunity to work with such a diverse set of women and men, with backgrounds across a range of sectors and bringing together expertise in a way that can benefit the delivery of e-health across the UK and further afield is extremely humbling. I very much look forward to seeing the impact that this project will have on care pathways and delivery of digital health care.”

Tessa Goodchild – Kernow Health (project partner): 

Tessa started a career in administration working at Cornwall Ambulance Service and was always keen to seek new challenges! She diversified into HR, moved to the local District Council, ‘climbed the ladder’ from HR to projects and performance and finally moved into a Business Improvement Manager role. 

“In 2017, I was introduced to the Health and Social Care service working across the system as a Project Manager for Shaping Our Future and then specifically working for GP practices.  Working for Kernow Health CIC has enabled me to consolidate this knowledge and experience to work as a representative on the Connecting Healthcare Partnership Programme – where everyday is a ‘school day’ learning from all these wonderful women!”

Sally Burley – The 3rd Degree (project partner):

With a background in Cognitive Science, specifically focusing on neuroscience and artificial neural modelling Sally began a career in software engineering and web-based applications development in 1995. She left her role as a senior engineer in Rolls Royce’s aero division in 2003 to form a startup with 2 other founders that brought the first mobile research platform, using text messages for surveys and customer engagement, to market. 

The business became involved in healthcare and patient feedback around 9 years ago taking her full circle back to machine learning and utilising it for patient feedback monitoring.  

“I’m really passionate about the prospects of connecting patients better to their care teams and the CHC project presents a great opportunity to show how connectivity and insight can deliver service improvements. It’s a huge inspiration for me to work with such an experienced team from a diverse background of both technology and healthcare.” 

Joanna Ledger – Assistant Research Manager/Clinical Lead, Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust:

Joanna is proud to have worked in the National Health Service for over 25 years, where she started her first role as a phlebotomist in primary care in Sheffield.  During her psychology degree and MA she developed a passion in Mental Health and Research and 18 years on this still stands. She has had numerous clinical roles as a Registered Mental Health Nurse working in Rehabilitation and Recovery and Early Intervention in Psychosis service and as a Senior Research Nurse.  She has now consolidated her interests into her current role as Assistant Research Manager for Cornwall Foundation Partnership NHS Trust.  This is a rewarding and varied role where she is passionate about developing a workforce that is research aware and skilled and assuring patients have equity of access to research opportunities across Cornwall. Ensuring research is part of everyday health care is fundamental for health treatments and services to be both effective and progressive.  The CHC project is a great example of this:        

“Testing whether satellite communications could assist in the provision of efficient digital healthcare, where connectivity is lacking, is super exciting. It is wonderful and humbling to be collaborating with such interesting, innovative and able women- ‘women of steel’ as we would say in Sheffield. This is an ambitious project across organisations and nations and I am delighted that it is a female dominated team driving it forward.”

Anne Thomas – CEO, Cornwall Care: 

Anne is Chief Executive of Cornwall Care, a charity that runs sixteen homes and a county-wide network of community outreach services. Having worked as a nurse before moving on to senior posts, she has many years’ experience in the social care sector and is a keen and active advocate of the industry – believing a more holistic approach to adult health will help change perceptions and achieve positive change. She is interested in sharing ideas with like-minded organisations and, whilst keeping individuals at the heart of every strategy, believes technology has an important role to play in healthcare connectivity.

“I’m delighted to be involved in this ground-breaking CHC project. The potential for linking up remote communities is enormous – not just in Cornwall, but globally. Covid has taught us many things, including how important technology can be in keeping us together virtually when physical closeness proves difficult. The possibilities are endless and it’s wonderful to be part of something so exciting.”

Sharon Hudson –  Research manager/ Lead Research Nurse, Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust:

Sharon leads and manages a multi-disciplinary research and innovation team. The team supports the running of National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Portfolio studies and home-grown sponsored studies. Sharon consistently strives to integrate research into everyday clinical practice and her vision is that all patients have the choice and or opportunity to be involved in quality clinical research trials. 

Sharon has been a practising mental health nurse since 1996 in a variety of mental health nursing posts. In 2018 she was proud to be appointed as Clinical Research Specialty Lead for Mental Health and led the way by being the first nurse in the South West region to be appointed .This Leadership regional role is for the South West Clinical Research Network (SWCRN) and involves engagement nationally driving clinical research agenda.  

“I am really excited to be working on the CHC project, bringing technology into a healthcare space that has been underrepresented is a real challenge and provides hope for improved access to care for the future.” 

Madi Stephens – Clinical Research Fellow

Madi is a keen runner, cook, skier, reader, and scuba diver and is an adult registered nurse. During her training Madi was awarded second place in Plymouth University’s ‘Nursing Challenge’ and for her leadership skills during Peninsula Trauma and Emergency Care Conference. Madi has worked in accident and emergency and intensive care in London and Cornwall and has led service improvement projects aimed at improving patient safety. In 2019, Madi began a master’s degree in public health with King’s College London University. Madi is particularly interested in how wider, social determinants influence individuals’ and populations’ health and wellbeing. Madi is currently writing a thesis exploring how the clinical outcomes of rural patients requiring emergency neurosurgery can be improved. In 2020, Madi joined the Connected Healthcare Project as a clinical research fellow: 

“To improve health today and in the future, sectors need to work together in an innovative way. The project draws on this idea by merging the health, technology, and space sector together. It is a great learning experience which draws on everyone’s academic and professional strengths. I am excited to be part of a project which aims to reduce the ‘digital divide’ and improve healthcare in populations underrepresented in the field of research.”  

Nicki Rayment – Head of Digital Services, Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust 

2021 is Nicki’s 31st year of working in an IT role in the NHS. I left school in 1984 without ever having touched a computer let alone could I have imagined having a lifelong career working in the digital sector.  

“The way health care has been able to transform through the use of technology is phenomenal and now here we are looking at using satellite technology to reach our remote and vulnerable citizens in Cornwall.  My role in the project is to help navigate the complexities of the multi-NHS organisation structure in Cornwall to put the team in touch with the right technical expertise at the right time.”

The South West Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications is based in Cornwall with the University of Exeter as the lead delivery partner.
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