Meet the PPA

The PPA Executive Committee


Diarmuid Denneny 

Diarmuid is professional lead physiotherapist at the Pain Management Centre (PMC), the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, 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 relating to physiotherapy practice in pain 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 a member of the guideline development committee for the NICE chronic pain guidelines. Diarmuid is a module lead (Strategies for the Self-Management of Pain) for the new UCL MSC in Pain Management. He also has interests in the non-medical management of CRPS and is a committee member of CRPS UK.

Vice Chair:

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 particularly interested in understanding so called “medically unexplained symptoms” such as chronic pain, chronic fatigue syndrome and increasing access to evidence based care and support for those living with these conditions.

Jackie is in the first year of a 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. 


Alice Morgan

Alice is an Advanced Practitioner Physiotherapist (APP) in Pain Management. She graduated from Brighton University and quickly found her passion working with people with persistent pain. She has worked in two of the leading London pain management centres; St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and University College London NHS Foundation Trust. She now leads a Pain service for Connect Health in Hertfordshire and was recently appointment Pain Subject Matter Expert for the organisation. She is due to finish her MSc in Pain Management at Cardiff University in 2018. Her interests are running pain management programmes and working alongside MSK Physiotherapists with the aim to improve overall management of persistent pain within physiotherapy.


Elsje de Villiers

Elsje is team lead physiotherapist for for the Pain Service at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. She specialises in pain management for people living with persistent pain - both individually and in pain management programmes - using psychologically informed practice.  

Elsje has an MPhil and has been involved in clinical research on virtual reality for the management of chronic pain, and is developing a clinical research career with focus on management for people living with fibromyalgia. She was awarded an HEE bridging scheme to develop an NIHR clinical doctoral fellowship application, and is in the process of developing this further. 

Research Officers:

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. 

Jackie Walumbe

Equality, Diversity & Belonging Officer:

Salma Hassan

Salma graduated from Coventry University and has a MSc in Pain (Kings College, London). She works at the Pain Management Centre (PMC), The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trusts. She works delivering both online and face to face pain management programmes. Salma is interested in working with patients to improve pain management programmes by making them more accessible and inclusive.
Salma took on the role of Equality, Diversity and Belonging officer for the PPA in late 2021 and is keen to hear from and engage with PPA members.

PRO and Website Officer:

Claire Campbell

Claire is a lead advanced practice physiotherapist in the NHS Fife Pain Management Service.

She has sought opportunities to support people to engage in meaningful activities through voluntary and professional posts. She has worked clinically 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.

Claire is passionate about inclusive healthcare and supporting healthcare professionals across specialities to develop skills in person centred care. 

Journal / Newsletter Editors:

Chris Seenan

Chris is a Senior Lecturer, Researcher and Physiotherapist with a specialist interest in pain science, cardiovascular disease, amputee management and the psychosocial aspects of health and disease. He has particular expertise and interest in low-cost, non-invasive, patient-centred interventions for pain relief and structured patient-centred education and exploring the effects of these interventions on free-living physical activity, function, quality of life and the psychosocial aspects of chronic conditions.He is currently investigating the effects of Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) and patient-centred education on pain and physical activity in patients with Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) and Intermittent Claudication (IC), funded by the Chief Scientist Office (CSO). 

Chris has been a member of the PPA (North) and PPA committees since 2012 in Education Officer and Research Officer roles and since 2017, Co-editor of the PPA Journal- Pain and Rehabilitation. 

Cormac Ryan

Cormac is a Reader in Physiotherapy at Teesside University. He graduated from the University of Limerick in 2002 with a BSc in Sports and Exercise Science and completed an MSc in Physiotherapy (pre-registration) at Queen Margaret University College, Edinburgh.  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.

Education Officer:

Clair Jacobs

Clair Jacobs 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 running ACT-Pain management related workshops ‘Using psychology in my everyday clinical practice’ and 'The Open Aware and Engaged Therapist - Exposure - A Practical approach’ including to the British Pain Society and Hong Kong Pain Society. Clair has a clinical role specialising in multidisciplinary group-based pain management programmes, combined pain management and intervention programmes and individual work. Clair has published papers on topics including; ‘Applying the Psychological flexibility model for physiotherapy training’ and ‘Utility of physical performance measures in PMP’s’.

Clair is interested in training and development in this field and in exploring practical applications of movement to enhance well-being.

Student & Early career physiotherapy representatives:

Jake Webster

Jake is a graduate sports scientist who is currently a physiotherapy student at London South Bank University and a physiotherapy assistant working in a brain injury unit. He is passionate about pain management and pain science, and is committed to making this the focus of his clinical and research career. He is keen to promote the role of physiotherapy in pain management, and also support a move to standardise pain education for pre-registration students in both the UK and around the world.


Sagar Vedpathak

Sagar recently commenced clinical practice as a physiotherapist in the Lincolnshire Community Pain Management Service with Connect Health. He graduated as a Physiotherapist in 2017 and completed an MSc in Physiotherapy in 2019.He was introduced to pain and its management during his MSc when he elected to take a “Pain Management” module.  He has completed courses in Motivational Interviewing and Cognitive Functional Therapy. Sagar is keen to engage in opportunities to actively take part in the ongoing research regarding pain and its management and promote evidence based practice to his peers.

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  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.

BPS Link Officer and Executive Committee member:


Leila Heelas

Leila is 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 influence managers and 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.  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 Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Motivational interviewing and CBT for pain.

Membership Secretary: 


Emma Withers

Chair of PPA North:

Claire Campbell


PPA North Committee Members:  

 Chris Seenan


 Alice Hopkins

Alice is an early career physiotherapist, currently working within Musculoskeletal departments within NHS Lothian. Through a student placement with the NHS Fife Pain Management Service, research, and rotations since qualifying, has developed a particular interest in chronic pain and its neurophysiology as well as how it impacts patients.

Alice's undergraduate research was part of a large scale study looking at physical activity in people with chronic pain at university, showing indeed that there is a negligible difference in activity levels between persons with and without chronic pain. She is keen to develop her knowledge and skills in this area and is passionate for chronic pain to be a more approachable subject for both outpatient physiotherapists and patients.

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