Our partners

As part of our extended team at NeedleSmart we work with several expert organisations as our strategic partners including CAL international who are our design partner of choice.


Meet the NeedleSmart team

Cliff Kirby
With a degree and extensive experience in mechanical engineering and product development Cliff is the inventor and founder of the NeedleSmart product and company.
David Latham
Head of Development
David is responsible for managing processes from concept through to product development.
David has extensive knowledge of project management in multi-disciplined roles across a variety of medical and engineering sectors.
John Bryne
John is an experienced director developing companies from grass roots and has taken the lead role in the development of several start up companies both have which have led to an exit for multi million sales prices. He has held CEO positions and currently sits on the board of various companies including NeedleSmart.
Dean Fathers
Dean joined the Board in 2020 and brings with him a range of relevant skills and experience. Initiating his commercial life in logistics with Pioneer, TNT and Abbey Hill BMW, he progressed to build a portfolio career, founding, growing and selling several organisations and taking on numerous Non Executive Board appointments, mainly in the health and technology sectors. In addition to his considerable commercial and entrepreneurial experience Dean brings NHS and executive education experience to the NeedleSmart board. He has chaired Acute, Community, Mental Health and Primary Care Trusts, as well as a Health Authority, and has been on the board of both NHS Providers and the NHS Confederation’s Mental Health Network. He has also been a lead tutor for the Institute of Directors and been honoured with professorial appointments by Cass, Leeds, Lincoln and Nottingham Business Schools. In addition to working with NeedleSmart, Dean is also currently Chair of GreenKite Associates, a Non Executive Director of both Diagnostic Healthcare and the PHSO, is on the Board of the GLLEP, where he is chair of their Health and Care Enterprise Committee and also chairs the Centre for Organisational Resilience and the Lincoln International Institute for Rural Healthcare at the University of Lincoln.
Michael Ricks
Michael’s focus is to enable the team to scale the business through acquiring capital, growing revenue and profitability, and expanding geographies served. As partner with a London investment bank, he specialised in advisory and capital raising for fund managers and corporates, focused on high-tech and health-tech. While partner with three of the “Big Four” consultancies, he held leadership roles in national, regional and global financial services / insurance practices, focused on delivering business strategy through technology and process design and implementation, as well corporate finance and M&A. As a board member, advisor, mentor, and investor, Michael teams with entrepreneurs and their investors to grow businesses leveraging scalable technology, from inception through exit. He is particularly interested in practical application of data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, IoT, geospatial, and distributed ledger technologies to improve health and quality of life.
Charles Alessi
Charles Alessi will chair NeedleSmart’s new advisory board. He is MD and Chief Clinical Officer for HIMSS, a global advisor and thought leader supporting the transformation of the health ecosystem through information and technology. Charles travels the world assisting governments, large corporations, hospital chains and HIMSS members in the utilisation of data and information to improve the health and wellbeing of citizens. Charles Alessi brings a wealth of experience around health systems and the interface between healthcare, social care and the personalisation of wellness to the NeedleSmart team. Alessi is also senior advisor to Public Health England, leading thought leadership around productive, healthy ageing and has extensive experience in military medicine. He was also a past chairman of the National Association of Primary Care and holds a variety of international academic positions both in Europe and the Americas having been published widely in the media and journals.

Advisory Board

Zafran Azam
Zafran is a healthcare entrepreneur, motivational coach and business mentor. He is the Head of Medicines Optimisation & Delivery for Derby City Place, here commissioning health services to 31 practices and serving a population of approximately 330,000 patients. Zafran is also an NHS Lead Pharmacist (City Locality), leading in areas including the Medicines Management directorate: Community Pharmacy, SharePoint (data control & architecture) Respiratory Right Care, Business Continuity, Information Asset Ownership, General Data Processing Regulation (GDPR) and Risk Register. He also has extensive experience in public and private sector project management and since 2011 has had his own Management Consultancy, providing expertise, knowledge & solutions to help pharmacies, GP practices and healthcare providers improve turnover, value & resilience. A few of Zafran’s previous roles include Medicines Management Pharmacist at Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group (SDCCG), Services and Training Development Lead at ProPharmace and Post Graduate Tutor CPPE at the University of Manchester.
Maureen Baker
Maureen is an experienced Chief Medical Officer with a demonstrated history of working in the health wellness and fitness industry. In 2017, she became Chair of the Professional Record Standards body and in 2018 was appointed as Chief Medical Officer for Your.MD. Maureen is a strong healthcare services professional, skilled in Epidemiology, Emergency Medicine, Management, Healthcare Management, and Healthcare. She was previously with the Royal College of General Practitioners for over 22 years and was also Clinical Director for Patient Safety with NHS Connecting for Health from 2007 – 2016.
Prof. Wasim Hanif
Prof. Hanif is a Professor of Diabetes & Endocrinology, Consultant Physician, & Head of Service in diabetes at University Hospital Birmingham. He is a Hon. Professor of Medicine at University of Warwick, is a Board Member of Centre for Diabetes Endocrine & Metabolism, and University of Birmingham & Clinical Advisory Group lead for research in Diabetes & Endocrinology at Institute of Translation Medicine, Birmingham. He is also a visiting Professor at Birmingham City University and Medical Director of Advanced Diabetes Course. Wasim is an eminent authority on Diabetes, Obesity, and Ethnic health. He works with several national bodies, and professional groups in the UK including being involved with major research projects in diabetes and has published widely. Wasim was selected for Kings Fund Leadership Programme in Diabetes and is a well-known authority on real world evidence working on big data with a dedicated bioinformatics team. He is involved as a chief and principal investigator in several international multi-centre trials and was instrumental in setting up UKADS (United Kingdom Asian Diabetes Study). He is the Chair of the Diabetes Working Group of the world-recognised South Asian Health Foundation (SAHF) as well as a member of the Parliamentary and Stakeholder Diabetes Think Tank advising the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Diabetes. He is also a member European policy forum on diabetes advising EU. Prof. Hanif is involved in several international projects, that include, IDF WHO Global Policy Forum on Diabetes, Strategy for Commonwealth to guide ministers at UN summit, Chair International advisory board for ORNATE project India of MRC, member of UK Foreign & commonwealth office Scientific trade delegation among others. He is recipient of several national and international awards including the prestigious South Asian Health Foundation UK Lifetime Achievement Award.
Pali Hungin
Pali is Emeritus Professor of Primary Care and General Practice at Newcastle and was previously the Dean of Medicine at Durham University and the President of the British Medical Association in 2017. He helped initiate the research support networking movement in the UK, initially in primary care, and led the NHS Research and Development Forum (England). His academic work has focused on clinical research and on professionalism and he is currently a non-executive director with the Tees Esk Wear Valley NHS Mental Health Trust. Pali is the lead of the Changing Face of Medicine commission at the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, which brings together representatives from the medical profession, patient groups and commercial organisations to explore the role of the doctor in the future, with an initial time horizon of 2040. The Commission’s latest report – Doctor, who? Shaping a Vision for 2040 – looks at key themes: public-patient-doctor engagement; technology, informatics, AI; clinicians’ wellbeing; rethinking medical education; and leadership for future imagining.
Natalie Jennings
Natalie has been a nurse for over 20 years, beginning as an RGN in acute settings and since spending over 10 years within offender health, leaving as the Head of Healthcare alongside an RMN qualification. After working in several other healthcare roles, Natalie joined the CQC in 2014 as a Specialist Advisor and won the ‘Best Clinical Team Award’ at the National Health and Justice Summit in 2015. In this same year Natalie achieved the title of ‘Queens Nurse’. In 2016, she was highly commended by the HSJ for innovative care, won ‘Team of the Year’ in her Trust and was elected Staff Governor for the Nursing Constituency. In 2017, Natalie became the Deputy Director of Nursing within a large mental health charity, completed her nurse prescribing and attended the first Executive Nurse Leaders Programme with the Queens Nursing Institute. Natalie’s current role is Director of Compliance and Training, was shortlisted for the HSJ Partnership Awards in 2020 and has achieved 100% in both compliance audits since the role began. This role has diverse responsibilities which Natalie enjoys and maintains her clinical skills by teaching in a variety of topics and volunteering in her local town as First Responder with the Ambulance Service.
Rob Laycock
Rob is a Consultant Maxillofacial and Facial Plastic Surgeon, qualified in both medicine and dentistry. He has completed a broad range of training including general surgery, ENT (ear, nose and throat) surgery and specialist training in aesthetic facial surgery. Rob was awarded a fellowship in aesthetic and reconstructive surgery and has special interests in skin cancer, nasal reconstruction and post-traumatic facial deformity. Holding a postgraduate qualification in teaching and education, Rob is involved in the Aesthetic MSc Module for the University of Liverpool Medical School and is an examiner both in the UK and internationally with the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh.
Kishan Rees
Dr Kishan Rees is a Pharmaceutical Physician & Urgent Care Clinician consulting from The Hospital of St John & St Elizabeth in London, UK. Joining The Pharmaceutical Industry in 2018, his interest in digital has shaped his work devising and delivering medical education resources and, seeking to transform clinical practice by putting science at the forefront of clinician’s minds, while also directly empowering patients with high quality education - such that they can engage as equals in consultation. Views he has championed as a health pundit for Sky News since 2016. He maintains his licence to practice as an Urgent Care Clinician at the Hospital of St John & St Elizabeth, London UK. He has a love of cycling, sustaining a Traumatic Brain Injury along the way, and was diagnosed with dyslexia in 2017. When he is not falling off his bike he can be found at Watford FC. Kishan’s primary medical qualification is from Leicester Medical School, holds a Master of Medical Sciences in Medical Education with Distinction, and an Executive Master of Business Administration with Merit - both from The University of Nottingham. As an honorary lecturer at Hull York Medical School he greatly enjoys training the next generation of tomorrow’s doctors. Where he is also reading for an MD researching ‘What is the impact of and interplay between social and mainstream media when it comes to global public health communication during a pandemic.’
Andrew Valance-Owen
Andrew qualified at Birmingham University Medical School, later undertaking surgical training in Newcastle upon Tyne and Melbourne, Australia. He spent some time working within the British Medical Association, eventually appointed as BMA Scottish Secretary and, later, Head of Policy Development at HQ. He was appointed Medical Director of Bupa Hospitals in 1994 and, in 1995, became Bupa’s Group Medical Director (Chief Medical Officer) where he became the professional ‘face’ of Bupa and furthered his interests in the quality of health and elderly care, clinical audit, development of patient information and the measurement of patient reported outcome. Reaching the age of 60, he retired from Bupa in March 2012. Andrew started working with UK Trade and Investment (now Department for International Trade) in 2011 when he became Chairman of UKTI’s Healthcare Business Group. He has represented and spoken for the UK Government in several countries, including China, India, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Columbia and Mexico. Since leaving Bupa, Andrew has established a portfolio of non-executive roles in healthcare. He is Chief Medical Officer of Medicover AB (EU and India) and he chairs the Private Healthcare Information Network, a not-for-profit organisation. He recently finished his six-year term as Senior Independent Director of the Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, a leading specialist heart and lung hospital. He is now heavily involved in promoting good health and preventing chronic disease, both as Co-Chair of the Expert Advisory Group of ‘Bite Back 2030’, a national campaign to reduce childhood obesity, and as Medical Adviser to iamYiam, a digital company using AI to promote health and wellbeing. He has recently joined the Board of TestCard Limited as their Chief Medical Officer.
Patrick Nyarumbu
Patrick is Executive Director of Strategy, People and Partnerships at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust. His previous role was as Director of Nursing Leadership and Quality NHS England and NHS Improvement for the East of England. Patrick is a mental health nurse by background and has worked in a wide range of NHS organisations covering mental health, acute and specialist services as well as a Primary Care Trust and a Clinical Commissioning Group. Patrick is passionate about leadership development, talent management and championing diversity. Patrick holds an MSc in Health Care Leadership through the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson programme.
Nicki Smith
Nicki started her career as a nurse, specialising in cardiology and moving into NHS management roles in 2000, working as a Matron, then nurse manager, business manager and lead for medicine and A&E. In 2004, Nicki moved into emergency preparedness, working as Deputy Head of EPRR for London for many years, including time as the NHS advisor to the London resilience team, part of the Deputy Prime Ministers Office, and also a secondment to the Department of health as the NHS national lead for pandemic flu. In 2012 Nicki became the Regional Lead for Emergency Preparedness Resilience and Response (EPRR) for NHS England, leading the NHS emergency response during the successful 2012 Olympic Games. In 2016 Nicki moved to Qatar to work as a subject matter expert for Lord Darzi Qatar limited, defining the EPRR planning process for the primary health care service in Qatar and starting to build plans and resilience for the 2022 FIFA world cup games. In 2019 Nicki returned back to the UK and worked at NHS England as the winter Director and then Operations Director for the first wave of the covid 19 pandemic.