Meet our PPI Committee

The role of the Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) is to provide oversight, input and advise on the development and coordination of Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) in the activities conducted by NIHR Surgical MedTech Cooperative and to act as a ‘critical friend’.

The aims of the PPI Committee

  • To facilitate a shared understanding of patient and public involvement in research and help to develop consistency across the NIHR Surgical MedTech Cooperative themes.
  • To identify, discuss and address issues of common concern and avoid unnecessary duplication of effort.
  • To facilitate access to support and resources that are available from INVOLVE and other PPI group member organisations.
  • To exchange ideas, strengthen skills and share examples of good practice.

Primary Duties and Responsibilities

  • Provide advice and guidance as appropriate to the NIHR Surgical MIC.
  • Develop appropriate policies to support the development of PPI for NIHR Surgical MIC.
  • Provide advice on issues that affect end users.
  • Provide a mechanism via which requests for updates and/or attendance at meetings can be channelled.
  • Provide a forum for discussion of progress.
  • Guide the development of recommendations for further work.


Charlotte Saunders

I currently work as Youth Involvement Co-Lead in Birmingham, and have previously worked (for a year) as Engagement Co-ordinator at the local Children’s Hospital. Therefore, I have experience working in both healthcare and research environments to promote the engagement and involvement of young people aged 11-25 (including patients) in research and service improvement projects. I currently co-manage a youth advisory group and previously managed the Young Persons’ Advisory Group at the Children’s Hospital. Therefore I am familiar with involvement practice and have seen first hand its importance.   Furthermore, I have over 13 years of experience working for, and volunteering with, youth support organisations – which has enabled me to successfully support researchers to involve members of the public within their research in the roles mentioned above.   I want to be involved in the work of the NIHR Surgical MedTech Co-operative, as a way to give back – and to make a contribution to the continued development of surgery within the NHS and to help improve the lives of other patients and their families across the UK. I am also interested in being able to see first-hand the surgical and technological innovation promoted by the Surgical MIC, as well as it’s real-world application within NHS services.

I also wish to help to empower more patients to engage with the work of the Surgical MIC, by my involvement in the co-production and co-design of accessible resources and events.


Rashmi Kumar

As a carer for an elderly family member suffering from long term multiple and terminal conditions; I have a better understanding of some key physical, psychological and social challenges patients (and families) face in their lives every-day, and how with little support their health and quality of care / wellbeing can be significantly improved.  I believe it is important to work in partnership with service providers and users in order to effectively develop and prepare key objectives on any proposals, and help to better manage effective delivery of plans with maximum impact on outcomes for diverse care for professionals, users and all communities.  I hope to support and contribute to the group in small way, to review and assess overall value of development on future health, social and economic wellbeing of diverse communities especially the under-engaged communities.


Rebecca Harmston

I am a scientist with a background in biochemistry, life sciences and cancer research. For the past six years I have specialized in patient involvement in health and medical research.   I have extensive experience in advising academics and medical professionals from a patient or lay member perspective. My patient involvement experience includes ethics, guidance development, quality standards, steering and advisory groups, diagnostics, technology appraisal and reviewing.  I also review research applications for i4i, Research for Patient Benefit, Cochrane Reviews, the British Medical Journal, Health Research Wales and the Policy Research Programme.


Philip Bell

Dr Philip Bell (Non Medical Doctorate PPI Lead): Is highly experienced in PPI and sits on several Trial Steering Committees, including Med Tech, Pharma and Policy Research Units as well as funding boards for NIHR and is a public panel member of MRC. He has acted as facilitator on PPI Meetings at various conferences and focus groups. Recently he has been asked as a first by NICE to join as an Expert Lay Member of the Managing Covid 19 Scoping and Guidelines Committee. He has also co-authored several publications on PPI. Although living in Wales he has PPI interests in all four nations.


Manoj Mistry

I have over 30 years’ experience as a ‘family carer’ and hence extensive experience of dealing with NHS health professionals.  My key attributes include high analytical ability, very strong research capability, excellent communication and listening skills, high team-working ability (but I can also work independently) whilst being non-judgemental and very patient in nature. I have the ability to understand both academic and clinical information, and I can communicate in a professional manner (written and verbal) to a wide range of people.



Deborah Awosusi

Having just started out on my patient and public involvement journey, I am looking forward to helping researchers and companies by sharing my opinions and key ideas on the surgical technologies presented.   This is also an opportunity for me to learn about how medical technology is developed and how my views and experiences can shape that development.  I am very hardworking, have great communication and listening skills,  and I am able to work well as part of a team to support people.


Yasmin Rahman

I am interested in this role due my interest in improving healthcare at a local level.   I am part of a Young People’s Advisory Group in Nottingham that is supporting a grant on ‘Adolescent Mental Health and Development in the Digital World.  I advise the leadership team on the conduct of projects and contribute to planning and delivery of the work and attend regular meetings to share opinions, discuss and influence the direction of the proposal.  I am also a reviewer for NIHR Evidence.  My previous experience in patient and public involvement has included:  supporting research teams to address experiences of mental health care experienced by Black people, Asian people and people from ethnic minority backgrounds; co-producing animation and video resources that disseminate accurate information about young people’s mental health in the most engaging way possible; as well as supporting researchers to assess the impact of public involvement in their work.


Julie Hepburn

I have an interest in the work of the Surgical MedTec Co-operative, particularly because of my treatment which could be used to benefit many people but which is not currently well known about amongst cancer specialists.  I am also interested in the advances being made in distant monitoring of conditions. I have worn heart monitors in the past and improvements in technology in this area have always interested me.  I was a member of the All Wales Prioritisation Committee for Health and Care Research Wales Projects (run through the Wessex Institute) for 3 years, I do NIHR Reviews for Projects going to the various Funding Boards, some of which have been related to technological developments.