VRA Friends
The Friends of the VRA is our advisory group of senior professionals with a deep understanding of vocational rehabilitation. They are influential in industry, academia and government, and are supporting the our strategy development and delivery. We are delighted to have such an esteemed group supporting us and we wanted to introduce them to you here.
Rob Hampton         

Rob Hampton qualified as a Doctor in 1986 and has worked in General Practice since 1990. Having worked as a GP Principal for many years, he chose to become a Freelance GP in 2012. Currently working across 2 GP practices and other healthcare providers, his current portfolio includes work as a GP with a Special Interest (GPSI) for people with substance misuse problems, musculoskeletal pain and occupational medicine. His portfolio also includes work in urgent care. He was recently elected to the RCGP Council and is a Medical Champion for Work as a Health Outcome with Public Health England.

He was Clinical Lead for one of the UK Fit for Work pilots (2008-12) that provided a referral service for GPs to help people with long term physical and mental health conditions stay in the workplace. This led to a number of follow-on projects aimed at improving care for the people of working age with chronic musculoskeletal pain conditions. These were recognised through various awards, from VRA, BMJ and NHS England.

Rob’s aim is to see a world where GPs will naturally refer patients for vocational rehabilitation as they would when requesting a blood test, X-ray or other forms of therapy.

Stephen Duckworth – Shaw Trust; Global Programme Board
Diana Kloss – Council for Work and Health
Stephen Bevan – Institute for Employment Studies
Steve Boorman – Council for Work and Health
Professor Dame Carol Black Professor Dame Carol Black DBE, FRCP, FMedSci is Principal of Newnham College Cambridge and Expert Adviser on Health and Work to NHS England and Public Health England,.   She chairs the board of Think Ahead, the Government’s fast-stream training programme for Mental Health Social Workers; the Board of Nuffield Health and Corporate Services Ltd; and the Institute of Cardiovascular Medicine and Science.    She is a member of the Bevan Commission on health in Wales, the board of UK Active, Rand Europe’s Council of Advisers, the Strategy Board for the Defence National Rehabilitation Centre, and the Advisory Board of Step up to Serve.

Dame Carol has compiled three independent reviews for the UK Government.   As National Director for Health and Work (2006-11) she completed in 2008 a review of the health of the population of working age, which led to a revised medical certificate of sickness; and in November 2011 she completed as Co-Chair an independent review of sickness absence in Britain whose recommendations have mostly been put in place.  Her latest independent review, of employment outcomes of addiction to drugs or alcohol, or obesity, and the benefits system, was published in December 2016 and is gradually being implemented.

Baroness Masham – House of Lords
Nick Pahl – Society of Occupational Medicine
Diane Playford – National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, UCLH –



Dr Emer Mc Gilloway studied medicine at Queen’s University Belfast and worked as a house officer at the Royal Victoria Hospital and as a Neurology registrar in Dublin at Beaumont, St Vincent’s and St James’s hospitals.

On moving to London she became interested in the rehabilitation of neurological injury and trained in Rehabilitation Medicine at King’s College Hospital, the Royal National Hospital for Neuro-disability and the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital Stanmore.

She joined Headley Court in 2010 where she was consultant lead for neuro-rehabilitation and honorary consultant at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham. As the Neuro-rehabilitation subject matter expert for the Ministry of Defence she was responsible for providing a comprehensive service for the Armed Forces.

She has been Educational Supervisor and subsequently Training Programme Director in Rehabilitation medicine in London, and developed a link between civilian and military rehabilitation training  allowing NHS and military trainees to enrich their training by experience in both models of rehabilitation provision.

Emer was Chair of the British Society of Rehabilitation Medicine (BSRM) Vocational Special Interest Group from 2014-17 and a member of the BSRM Executive committee since 2017.

Emer joined King’s College Hospital Trust as Clinical Lead for Rehabilitation and Acute Trauma Rehabilitation in 2014 where she has provided clinical leadership to a successful bid for additional inpatient neurorehabilitation beds in SouthEast London, effectively doubling the current provision. She represents London on the National CRG for Disability and Rehabilitation and was elected Regional Specialty Adviser for Rehabilitation Medicine in 2017.

Emer’s interests beyond medicine include classical music,  in particular opera. She is an alumna of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the National Opera Studio and was a professional opera singer for several years working as a soloist with major opera companies including Opera North, Welsh National Opera, English National Opera and Glyndebourne.

Mark Armour – Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Occupational Health and Ergonomics
Julia Scott



Julia Scott – Royal College of Occupational Therapists

I am an Occupational Therapist with a passion for supporting people with disabilities or impairments to live meaningful and fulfilled lives, I recognise the importance of employment and the impact of  worklessness.  As Chief Executive to the Royal College of Occupational Therapists I am keen to encourage our members to ensure that all  of their assessments include the “Work question” and their interventions address employment related matters.

I support the VRA because it is wholly focussed on supporting people to gain or maintain employment. Good work is good for health and the VRA recognises that Health and Care workforce practitioners  have a vital role to play in enabling as many people as possible to prepare for, engage in, and remain at work.

As a Friend of the VRA, I offer an Occupational Therapy  perspective, shaped by many years working within Social Care services, on policy drivers and their implementation with potential enablers of VR and barriers

at the front line.  In this capacity, I have the potential to share VRA messages with our 32,000 members.

I am keen to support new initiatives that have the potential to drive forward VR services.

Karen Middleton – Chartered Society of Physiotherapy
Kim Burton Coming from a clinical background, Kim is a freelance occupational health research consultant with a part-time professorial post at the University of Huddersfield. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine. Kim’s current research focuses on exploring the nature of obstacles to return to work for people with common health problems, including development of novel vocational rehabilitation and educational interventions. He is an expert advisor to the government’s Joint Work and Health Unit. Kim was appointed OBE in 2011 for services to occupational healthcare.

Debbie Cohen

Debbie is an Occupational Health Physician, Director of Student Support and the Centre for Psychosocial Research, Occupational and Physician Health at School of Medicine, Cardiff University. Debbie undertakes research in physician health as well as running a service for Wales for doctors with mental ill health. She also undertakes research into mental illness and employment and improving the conversation about work and health in health practitioners. She is a principle investigator at the National Centre for Mental Health in Cardiff, which researches a wide aspect of mental health, including employment issues in Wales. Debbie is the Faculty of Occupational Medicine lead for Physician Health and helped establish in 2011 the UK Association of Physician Health. In 2012 Debbie received the OBE for her contribution to occupational medicine.

Johnny Timpson


Johnny Timpson is Scottish Widows’ financial protection specialist. As a leading expert in his sector, he brings over 40 years’ experience working in a variety of technical roles and distribution models.

He is currently the Cabinet Office Disability Champion for the Insurance Industry and Profession, and Chairs the Access to Insurance Working Group, in addition he is also a member of the CII’s Insuring Women’s Futures Programme Advisory Panel and London Institute Inclusion and Diversity Committee. Johnny is also a member of the Resilience Task Force chaired by Baroness Drake and the Income Protection Task Force where he sits on both its Welfare and Building Resilient Households Working Groups.

A former chair of TISA’s Consumer Protection Policy Council and member of the ABI Protection Committee, Johnny until there close, was a member of the Seven Families Project team where he lead a workstream plus the Money Advice Service Mental Health Fin Tech Advisory Group.


Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash