Meet the Connect Health Team

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Board of Directors

Andrew Walton

Founder and Group Executive Director

Born and raised in Newcastle, Andrew founded Connect in 1989 with the aim of providing the highest level of care to people with musculoskeletal problems. He qualified as a Physiotherapist from Northumbria University in 1985 and worked at Edinburgh’s main teaching hospital, The Royal Infirmary, for three years. He then returned to Newcastle to take up a post in Sports Medicine.

Andrew combines his clinical expertise and commercial experience to develop innovative new ways to meet patient needs and commissioners’ budgets. He has driven improvements in MSK through the utilisation of service and outcome data. With others he founded the Musculoskeletal Partners Network (MSK PN), a Trade Association, which is dedicated to evaluating and sharing practice in the pursuit of excellence. He was recently made a Fellow of the CSP for his contribution to innovation in MSK services.

Mike Turner

Chief Executive Officer

Mike joined Connect Health as Operations Director in July 2016, moving to Chief Operating Officer in May 2019 and Chief Executive Officer in September 2021. During that time, Mike has contributed to significant change and development of Connect’s services and infrastructure, actively supporting our growth.

Prior to Connect, Mike spent 3 years in the NHS establishing and managing a major transformation programme, working across organisational boundaries to design and implement changes that have gone on to deliver £1bn savings whilst improving effectiveness and patient experience.

Mike’s previous experience started with qualifying as a Chartered Accountant and then moving into management consulting during 18 years with Deloitte and KPMG where he worked with a broad range of public and private organisations to improve their operational effectiveness and efficiency.

He is also Trustee of Healthworks North East, a social enterprise working to reduce health inequalities.

Becky Robson

Chief People Officer

Becky joined Connect Health as Chief People Officer in December 2022.

With a multi-sector background, Becky, over the last 20 years has worked in Retail, Utilities, Higher Education and Care and Support always in Human Resources. She led the full People Team at Hays Travel and before that at Northern Powergrid before joining Connect, establishing clear People Strategies and Plans.

Becky completed her BA Hons degree and MSc masters in Human Resources Management and became a chartered Fellow of CIPD in January 2020.

Becky is passionate about working with business leaders to create the best possible experience for colleagues. At home, time is spent with her two girls making memories!

Dr Graeme Wilkes

Chief Medical Officer

Dr Wilkes joined Connect in 2007 from General Practice and Sports Medicine, initially working as a GP with Special Interest and Clinical Lead. He gained entry to the Specialist Register for Sport & Exercise Medicine in 2011 and is now Connect’s Chief Medical Officer, having previously held the position of Medical Director, working clinically as a Consultant in Sport & Exercise Medicine (SEM).

Dr Wilkes has championed use of evidence-based medicine with Connect to achieve best clinical outcomes for patients. This has included developing Connect’s innovative “10/10 guidelines” and contributing to services leading the field in clinical outcome data production. Dr Wilkes has also developed an in-depth and expert understanding of how community NHS service can function well and meet the needs of patients, the taxpayer and staff.

Dr Wilkes serves as a Council Member for the Faculty of Sport & Exercise Medicine. He recently left the English Institute of Sport after 19 years serving as Senior Sport Physician and attending three Olympic Game in London, Rio and Tokyo with Team GB and British Diving for whom he served as CMO. He remains Club Doctor to Newcastle Eagles Basketball team and Pitchside doctor for Durham Women Football Club.

Mike Barker

Chief Financial Officer

Mike joined Connect Health as Non-Executive Director in April 2020, before becoming Chief Financial Officer in Mar 2023. During that time, Mike was part of the team that delivered the acquisition of Connect’s pain management business from InHealth.

Prior to Connect, Mike spent 3 years with private equity investor LDC, providing mid-market businesses in the North East of England with funding to support growth.

Mike is a Chartered Accountant, having spent 13 years with Deloitte in their corporate finance advisory practice, supporting private equity and owner managers to buy and sell regional businesses. Following the Credit Crunch of 2009, Mike set up his own consulting practice and over the next 10 years worked with a variety of mid-market companies supporting their growth plans and helping them achieve operational efficiencies.

He is also Non-Executive Director of Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Helen Faulds

Chief Information Officer

Helen joined Connect Health in April 2021 as Head of IMT Service Operations, accountable for the infrastructure, information security and supporting IT services. In October 2022, Helen successfully took over the role of Chief Information Officer, where she oversees Connect’s technology related strategies and initiatives, helping the business to move forward with advances in technology and methods of processing and managing information.

With over 20 years of experience in IT and Programme Management across several sectors including Finance and Utilities, Helen has managed the successful implementation of large-scale IT and Operational Programmes of change, delivering significant benefits within organisations such as Santander, Barclays and nPower.

Helen is passionate about delivering secure, stable and innovative IT solutions which support our colleagues to deliver excellent care to our patients.

Paul Allan

Chief Operating Officer

Paul joined Connect Health as a Clinical Lead of a community service in North Central London in 2014. Since then, he has progressed into several roles including Regional Manager, Deputy Director, Director of Operations and, more recently, Chief Operating Officer. Paul is also Connect Health’s CQC registered manager. He has been instrumental in Connects growth from a commercial and operational perspective. Involved and leading service transformation projects and wider infrastructure changes that have supported our delivery of services simultaneously with our organisational growth.

Prior to Connect, Paul completed his BSc and then MSc at Brighton University and worked across a few NHS Trusts in and around London in the Musculoskeletal speciality.

He is also an MSK Champion for the Versus Arthritis charity who sponsored him to complete a prestigious Executive Leadership course at Hult Ashridge 2018-2020.

Dr Andrew Cuff

Director of Clinical Strategy

Andrew joined Connect Health in April 2017 as Clinical Lead for our Yorkshire integrated MSK services. An experienced Consultant MSK Physiotherapist, he subsequently progressed to Head of MSK, responsible for our FCP, Tier 1 and Tier 2 MSK Services. In May 2023, Andrew was promoted to Director of Clinical Strategy, joining the Senior Leadership Team.

Andrew has a reputation as an expert clinician and thought leader on an international scale. As an active researcher with many clinical papers in peer-reviewed journals, he is a regular speaker at worldwide conferences. His PhD focused on the indications and rationale for diagnostic imaging within primary and community care. Andrew has held Executive positions in several organisations including EUSSER (Chair of Comms); the Musculoskeletal Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (Chair of Education), and most recently the Faculty of Sports and Exercise Medicine (Diplomate Chair) – the first AHP to join the FSEM Executive Council.

When not at work, Andrew continues to develop his leadership capabilities, holding a King’s Commission in The Royal Yorkshire Regiment and attempts to practice what he preaches around physical activity, as a very average runner and cricketer.

Lesley Crosby

Director of Nursing, Clinical Governance and Risk

Lesley joined Connect in August 2022 as Director of Nursing, Clinical Governance and Risk as well as Director of Infection Prevention and Control. Lesley qualified as a nurse in 1989, specialising in Emergency Department Nursing and since leaving the clinical area has worked in many roles including Director of Operations and Nursing for a private hospital in turnaround and well as Associate Director of Governance in a large London Trust. Lesley has worked in multiple acute Trusts, private healthcare and more recently within an Integrated Care System.

The majority of the roles Lesley has undertaken have had governance as their focus including a secondment to NHS E/I undertaking turnaround. Lesley’s most recent job was a Senior Clinical Lead and Workforce Lead for the COVID-19 vaccination programme covering three counties.

Lesley maintains her nursing qualification and firmly believes in a ‘Board to Floor’ approach to management that empowers and includes all members of the muti professional team.

Clinical expertise

Mike Carpenter

Head of Clinical Delivery (South) / National Lead - MSK

Mike joined Connect Health in September 2018. He became part of the Clinical Leadership team for the Herts Valley Musculoskeletal (MSK) Services, having previously worked in the NHS as an Advanced Physiotherapy Practitioner. He previously worked as a MSK Teaching Fellow on the Advanced Physiotherapy MSc programme at King’s College London, amongst other previous roles within the NHS, sports and academia.

Mike undertook his Developing Consultant Programme, through Connect Health, completing a 2.5 year training programme to become a Consultant Physiotherapist in 2022. He worked as the deputy head of MSK before moving into his current role. His clinical and research interests are based around the assessment and management of persistent and disabling low back pain and his passion is in integrating care, communities and people through personalised care.

Gail Sowden

Head of Clinical Delivery (North) / National Lead - Long Term Conditions

Gail is a Consultant Allied Health Professional and has extensive clinical and leadership experience in interdisciplinary pain services.

As an Honorary Research Fellow, at Keele University, she is involved in world leading musculoskeletal research and supports the implementation of key research findings into policy and practice. She leads and contributes to the development of national policy and practice and is a National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Fellow Alumni and current Member of the NICE Adoption and Impact Reference Panel. She is Immediate Past Chair of the British Pain Societies (BPS) Pain Management Programme Special Interest Group, sits on the BPS Education Committee and sat on the BPS Academic Scientific Committee. She has been a member of several external national committees and working groups (e.g., national standards, competencies, clinical guidelines, ePAIN), publishes in peer reviewed journals and has authored book chapters. She is also a postgraduate University Lecturer, has delivered CPD courses internationally and has presented at international and national conferences.

Dr Ian Bernstein

Responsible Officer and Musculoskeletal Physician

Ian Bernstein trained first as a GP in 1992, became a GP Trainer in 2002 and Director of Medical Education at CLCH Trust in 2020. Ian trained at the London College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1993 and completed his MSc in Osteopathy and Musculoskeletal medicine at University College London in 1999. Ian was the Clinical Director for Musculoskeletal Health Improvement at NHS England, London Region until June 2023 and is currently a clinical advisor to NW London ICB. Ian’s clinical role is as a musculoskeletal physician employed by Connect Health Ltd in the NW London Community Musculoskeletal Service, working in the community pain service. Ian became the Responsible Officer for Connect Health Ltd in July 2022. Ian was a member of the NICE Low Back Pain and Sciatica, and Chronic Pain Guideline Committees, and is the chair of the NICE Neurorehabilitation Guideline Committee and member of the NICE Technology Appraisal Committee.


Dr Marwan Al-Dawoud

National Sport and Exercise Medicine Lead Doctor

Dr Marwan Al-Dawoud joined Connect Health in 2016 as a Sport and Exercise Medicine Physician working as a clinician in the Yorkshire region. He is now the National SEM Doctor and is responsible for the Sports and Exercise Medicine side of the business.

He qualified from the University of Manchester Medical School and has subsequently trained in General Practice as well as taking higher-level studies in Sport and Exercise Medicine. He has worked in elite sport since 2007 in the Rugby League Super League, Premiership Rugby Union, Premiership Football, UK Athletics and Ballet.

Marwan brings extensive clinical experience from a diverse range of environments coupled with medical leadership and innovation.

Patient Experience

Caroline Clifford

Head of Patient Care Co-ordination

Caroline joined Connect Health in September 2019 as Head of Patient Experience after spending over 20 years working in Financial Services, working in large complex contact centre operations. In that time she has held many roles; starting her career in Insurance before moving into Banking.

Caroline’s passion has always been to deliver the best experience to customers, patients & colleagues, ensuring colleagues are set up for success so they can give the best service to patients and that processes are designed to do that. Colleague experience is also high on Caroline’s agenda, ensuring internal talent is nurtured to help colleagues be the best they can be to achieve their career aspirations, whilst also creating opportunities for colleagues to make a positive contribution in the local community.

Mini Mangat

Head of Patient Engagement

Mini is a Patient Engagement specialist with over a decade of successful experience in NHS and commercial health sectors. She has a passion for addressing health inequalities; understanding the importance of patients being involved in their own care, self-care and wellness. Mini is a strong believer of better health, care and long-term outcomes through delivering services with value added. She has considerable experience in consultation within the MSK field and has a track record of delivering high standards in patient engagement.

Mini focuses on activities addressing general themes of the patient community, establishing and developing relationships with local and national patient groups and external agencies; giving patients a voice.

Mini’s personal values of integrity, courage, passion and diversity are very much aligned to the values of Connect Health. Mini joined the organisation in 2019 and was immediately impressed with the efforts that are made to embed Connect’s values and create a great culture.