Facilitators for the Peer Support and Reflection Group: 'Let's Talk about Pain'

The PPA are delighted to launch a monthly peer support and reflection group. Here are some of the specialists who have volunteered to facilitate the sessions.

Diarmuid Denneney


Diarmuid is professional lead physiotherapist at the Pain Management Centre, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Clinically he is an advanced practitioner physiotherapist and independent prescriber.

Diarmuid was awarded an NIHR pre-doctoral fellowship and is interested in the development of clinical academic roles for physiotherapists. He has a particular interest in psychologically informed practice and the role for physiotherapists in supporting people who have pain and medication related issues. He has published peer reviewed articles including systematic reviews of trigger point manual therapy, a rapid review of automated outcome measures and an observational study on behaviours of experienced physiotherapists working within a psychologically informed model. 

Diarmuid is the PPA Chair and has been promoting physiotherapists' role in pain management through various committees and working groups, including the development committee for the NICE chronic pain guidelines. Diarmuid is a module lead (Strategies for the Self-Management of Pain) for the UCL MSC in Pain Management. He has also discussed psychologically informed practice and pain management in this Physio Matters Podcast with Tom Jesson.

Jackie Walumbe


Jackie is an advanced practitioner physiotherapist and independent prescriber working within a multidisciplinary NHS team (inpatient complex pain team) based in tertiary care and is involved in the management of complex pain in an integrated system across primary, community, secondary and tertiary care. She has worked clinically as a musculoskeletal physiotherapist, specialist pain physiotherapist and in leadership roles as operational and then clinical lead of a busy musculoskeletal service. She has an MSc in Pain (Kings College London) as well as an MSc in Global Public Health and Policy (Queen Mary, University of London). 

Jackie is a student of the DPhil in Primary Health Care at the Nuffield Department of Primary Health Care Sciences, University of Oxford as part of a NIHR/HEE Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship. She is conducting a research project looking into self management strategies for people living with chronic pain who have been excluded from specialist services using mixed methods. Jackie is the PPA Vice Chair and Research Officer with Selina Johnson. She has published a guest editorial documenting a session from the PPA 2019 Conference on sharing the lives experience of chronic pain. Jackie has also contributed to three panel discussions with other new AHP Leaders on changing the culture of conversations.

Sarah Wilson


Sarah is the Therapy Lead for Bath Centre for Pain Services at Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust. Sarah is involved in providing residential pain management programmes to both groups and individuals across the lifespan, from all over the UK. Sarah is a lecturer at Brunel University and leads their Advanced Clinical Practice module, Pain: Contemporary Science and Practice. Sarah’s research interests include physiotherapist delivered psychologically informed interventions for chronic pain and also the management of CRPS.

Sarah has served on The Pain Management Programmes Special Interest Group of The British Pain Society and chaired the development group for The Framework of Knowledge Skills and Behaviours of Physiotherapists working with Patients with Pain. She was the Chair of The Physiotherapy Pain Association (2015-2019) and a member of The British Pain Society working group looking at outcome measurement in chronic pain. She has recently been interviewed by Dr Joe Tatta for a podcast 'Implementing ACT into Physiotherapy Practice'.

Rebecca McLoughlin


Rebecca is currently working in the Red Cell Pain Management Service, St Georges University Hospital's NHS Foundation Trust. She has many years experience of working within specialist, interdiscipliary pain management services, facilitating group programmes and working with people individually.   To increase her understanding of psychological approaches, Rebecca has completed a post graduate diploma in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. 

Rebecca is currently working on a project funded by the Health Foundation, in partnership with the PPA, developing a training & supervision package for MSK physiotherapists to increase confidence integrating psychologically informed approaches into clinicial practice.

Clair Jacobs


Clair is the Lead Physiotherapist at INPUT Pain Management Centre, Guys and Thomas’ NHS Trust. She specialises in the delivery, teaching and management of complex chronic pain conditions; helping patients increase function and manage the impact of the pain using an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) approach.

Working within pain management for over 15 years, Clair has used the ACT approach for the last 8 years and has delivered workshops on ACT for clinicians nationally and internationally. The PPA open access webinar, delivered with Leila Heelas, 'Managing Pain: Skilful Conversations and Interractions' is available to view now. Clair works with people individually, facilitates multidisciplinary group-based pain management programmes and combined pain management and intervention programmes. Clair has published papers including; ‘Applying the Psychological flexibility model for physiotherapy training’ and ‘Utility of physical performance measures in PMP’s’.

Clair is the PPA Education Officer and in addition to organising training and developent events, she is also interested in exploring practical applications of movement to enhance well-being.

Leila Heelas


The Clinical Lead Physiotherapist  in the multidisciplinary Optimise Pain Rehabilitation Unit (Oxford University Hospitals NHS FT).  The service offers  an ACT based PMP, a physiotherapist-led pain rehabilitation programme using psychologically-informed physiotherapy and has just started a Compassion-Focused group for persistent pain.  She has a personal interest in working with CRPS, hypermobility and offering treatment to people who may have psychological barriers to group work.

Leila has an MSc in Pain Management and holds a Graduate Diploma in Psychology. She is interested in how to promote the benefits of pain management as a specialism and to this end has a PG Certificate in management (MBA – Stage 1). She is studying towards a PG Cert in Professional Practice, specifically looking at how to implement innovative practice such  as a rapid access pathway for people that have visited the Emergency Department repeatedly due to persistent pain.  

Leila has presented and submitted posters to conferences and is an honorary lecturer at Brookes University. The PPA open access webinar, delivered with Clair Jacobs 'Managing Pain: Skilful Conversations and Interractions' is available to view now. She regularly attends conferences related to pain, has received training in Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy as part of an Oxford University trial and has undertaken training delivered by psychologists in ACT, Motivational interviewing and CBT for pain. Leila is a PPA Executive Committee Memeber and is the British Pain Society Link Officer.

Prof. Cormac Ryan

Cormac is a Reader in Physiotherapy at Teesside University. He was awarded his PhD from the Glasgow Caledonian University in 2008 where he looked at the relationship between physical activity and chronic lower back pain. His primary area of research is chronic pain management. Cormac has published over sixty peer-reviewed journal articles and obtained more than £900,000 in competitive funding. Cormac is the co-editor in chief of Pain and Rehabilitation - the journal of the Physiotherapy Pain Association, a peer-review journal with a 20-year history. Cormac is also co-lead of the North East of England hub of the Council for Allied Health Professionals Research. James Watson, his PhD student has blogged about their recent study here, and he discusses this work in a podcast with Dr Joe Tatta, 'Is Partial Reconceptulisation of Pain a Success or a Failure?'.

Selina Johnson


Selina Johnson currently works within the Walton Centre pain management service, Liverpool. She is physio lead on the specialist pelvic pain PMP and physiotherapy research lead for the PMP. Her special interests are CRPS, pelvic pain, neuropathic pain and low frequency stimulation. In addition to her clinical work she is also completing a PhD at Liverpool University which will explore the use of low frequency nerve stimulation for the treatment of chronic neuropathic pain via a NIHR funded research trial. She is the PPA research officer with Jackie Walumbe. She has also been involved in producing booklets for children and young people.

Claire Campbell


Claire works in the Pain Management Service, NHS Forth Valley. Her role involves facilitating multidisciplinary pain management programmes, individual therapy and pain inservice training for MSK and rotational physiotherapists. She has previously worked in a range of acute and community services including a regional cancer centre, critical care, neurological rehabilitation, and a crisis response team which focused on prevention of inappropriate admission to hospital and end of life care in people’s homes. She is passionate about supporting healthcare professionals across specialities to develop skills in inclusive person centred care. She is the PPA PRO and supports members to share ideas, promoting best practice and innovation.


Patient Representatives

Christine P

Christine has lived with persistent pain for over 10 years following a back injury.  She lives with neuropathic pain and some back pain. 

Christine has been a patient representative for her local CCG Independent Patient Treatment Panel (IPTR) and an Expert by Experience undertaking CQC inspections. 

She identifies herself as having a ‘hidden’ disability and is keen to support others with the extra difficulties this ‘hidden’ aspect often causes.  Since her injury in 2008, Christine has received a number of episodes of physiotherapy care.   She is a strong proponent of physiotherapy having received a physiotherapy episode of care that she believes considerably improved her ability to live well with pain. 

Recently, Christine started to write, blog and talk about her experiences of Living Well with Pain.  Her blogsite is at livingwellpain.net  Christine hopes her writing can ultimately help support people with persistent pain.


Louise Trewern

Louise has lived with pain of varying degrees since childhood, but didn’t get a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia until she was in her thirties. The pain worsened over time and she was prescribed opioid pain medication. Louise took this medication for 13 years and over this time, her condition deteriorated further and she was also diagnosed with Osteoarthritis. She believed the Fibromyalgia was getting worse but discovered that she was experiencing side effects of long term use of opioids.

Due to the impact of opiod side effects, Louise was admitted to hospital for rapid tapering and and since that time her life has been transformed. Some of the best advice she received during her recovery was from Physiotherapists and she attributes much of her ongoing improvement to that advice! Lousie is now volunteering with the NHS Pain Service that helped her, as a patient expert and Chair of the Involve Giving Something Back Committee. 

Louise is Vice Chair of the British Pain Society’s Patient Voice Committee. She is passionate about helping others find ways to live well with their pain. Louise has contributed to the My Live Well With Pain site including a short film detailing her experience of stopping opiods and she has also blogged about her experience through the COVID-19 Lockdown.

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