Connect Health thrives on change and new ways of thinking

Dr Marwan Al-Dawoud, National Sports and Exercise Medicine Doctor, describes his experience of Connect Health’s multi-disciplinary approach.

9 August 2022

Connect Health thrives on change and new ways of thinking. It encourages the growth of ideas and people. This is exactly my ethos, so it’s a great place for me to work.


I come from a family of doctors, and although all the talk of medicine at the dinner table put me off at first, from a young age I realised that was what I wanted to do

I was a keen sportsman, representing my school, county and club. I played football for Burnley FC Junior Academy and trialled for Scottish rugby under 18s. When I was 18 I broke my collarbone during athletics, and that put paid to my sporting ambitions. I looked at various career options, such as dentistry and the law, but eventually came back to medicine, and saw a way I could also combine this with my love of sport. I’m still very active, going to the gym, road cycling, rock climbing, snowboarding and playing Sunday League football.


I studied medicine at Manchester University

Then I completed two years’ foundation training as a junior doctor. After that I took time out to work across east and southern Africa with various charities, helping in remote outreach clinics to treat sick people living in poverty. I just really wanted to care for people and help make a difference to their lives.


I qualified as a GP, which gives you a great skills base for a medical career

In 2010 I returned to Yorkshire and finished my GP training in 2013. From there I undertook higher level training to specialise in sports medicine.


I see MSK as an innovative, adaptive, changeable environment

I was already working in the NHS MSK service at Wakefield before it became a Connect Health service. There are lots of different facets to professional sport and MSK, and I interact with many different people and environments. I’ve worked with Leeds Rhinos, Wigan Warriors and Sale Sharks along with British Athletics and England Rugby League. I’ve worked in gyms, clinics and changing rooms and alongside doctors, physios, managers, coaches and athletes.


I really enjoy Connect Health’s approach to dealing with MSK

Connect Health started running the Wakefield MSK service in 2016, and I immediately liked the clinical leads and the management team and the fact that they are a very forward-thinking organisation.

I’ve always held the NHS on a pedestal and continue to serve the public through it. The adaptability, pace of change and ambitions at Connect Health have really appealed to me, to be working in an organisation open to new ideas. After a few years the role of Director of Clinical Delivery came up and it seemed like a good platform for me to get involved in clinical leadership. I have been really supported in my development to date, and in November 2019 I was promoted to Clinical Director then National Sports and Exercise Medicine Doctor in 2022.


Connect Health feels like a very supportive organisation that recognises staff needs and wellbeing. It’s not just physio-led, it recognises the value of a multi-professional workforce, and everyone has a voice.


There’s an autonomy to my role that I really enjoy

I’m expected to come up with, develop and implement new ideas. Connect Health is very big on networking and sharing ideas. Sometimes in medicine there can be a fear of competition which leads to people being reluctant to share knowledge. At Connect Health there is a recognition that the real way forward is to share and work with others who you can learn a lot from and grow together. There are always courses and conferences which give the opportunity to meet similarly minded people. If you can think outside that box and collaborate and share knowledge you can gain a lot more than keeping it to yourself. 


I really enjoy working as part of such a diverse team

Connect Health has a really wide range of staff from such a variety of backgrounds, and they bring so many different things to the working environment and our patients. It’s a great combination of leadership, collaboration and shared knowledge.


I still work a lot in sports medicine

I have a lot of different hats. As well as working for Connect Health, I work in East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, as Lead Doctor for England Partially Sighted Football and in a private sports medicine clinic in Leeds.


You’ve got to put yourself out there

It’s easy to become complacent, but you have to go out of the comfort zone and put yourself in situations where you might not feel that comfortable. For example, I’m starting to become more involved in clinical information, looking at how technology and innovation can marry up with the clinical world. It’s a whole new world for me and I’m learning on the job, and with Connect Health you have that opportunity.


Working at Connect Health is challenging and exciting

It’s somewhere that is continually growing and expanding which is an exciting thing to be part of. There’s really good leadership in Connect Health; it’s very supportive, and very friendly and open at a senior level.


If you’d like to find out more about working at Connect Health, contact

Click here to download Dr Marwan Al-Dawoud’s Story