The Team

Member bios

Health Junction was founded in 2011 by Cath Aitken and John Smith, and has come to include a wide partner network of expert clinicians and leading clinical bodies.

We’re based in Liverpool, but with a national reach. Learn more about our people.

Co-founder John Smith

Background

Prior to co-founding Health Junction, John achieved a Higher National Diploma in Media Studies at Sheffield University. John started work as an Outreach Youth Worker which he did for 14 years. Throughout this time John worked across multicultural communities as a bridge of support to deliver programmes for young people and their families which met their needs. John then went on to work in Adult Mental Health Services in Liverpool supporting patients to develop their personalised plans as part of the Care Programme Approach. John set up the first Health sub group as part of Liverpool’s Local Area Agreement and community networks during this time John championed Health and Mental Health. John then went on to work for the NHS alongside the GPs and commissioners in Wirral supporting health and employability of patients. John’s passion for teaching has recently led John to pass his Adult Education & Training qualification.

John is particularly focused on digital interventions and mental health and its effects on wellbeing, inspiring him to design and develop a variety of training courses which Health Junction regularly delivers to organisations in the public, private and third sectors.

Area of Expertise

John’s expertise lies in service design and pathways implementation and development, with an emphasis on health design, education, personalised planning, patient-reported outcomes, digital innovation and interaction.

Key Achievements

  1. Worked with the NHS Mental Health Trust Mersey Care on patient co-production and the national models for recovery colleges.
  2. Volunteer trustee for national charity Home Start (South Liverpool).
  3. Selected to participate in the development and design of the Open University Course on Personalisation – a joint initiative between Wirral NHS, Wirral Borough Council and the Open University.
  4. Guest speaker in various settings e.g Development of Personalisation within Health and Social Care, guest lecturer for John Moores University and also represents Health Junction on several boards and community groups.
  5. The development of Health Junctions first Digital device.

Co-founder Cath Aitken

Background

Cath Aitken has always been interested in how biological, social and psychological factors influence health and illness and the ways in which individuals manage their health conditions.

Cath originally trained in marketing and spent ten years with telecommunications giant BT, involved with cutting edge projects including the launch of the first mobile phones and email services.

Following a career break, Cath took the opportunity to return full-time to university and undertook a BSc (Hons) in Applied Psychology; obtaining a 1st Class honours which ignited an interest in chronic health conditions. Cath has also completed an MSc in International Public Health which focussed on global health inequalities, and a PhD exploring the impact of fatigue and pain in patients with psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis.

Cath has previously worked across various health organisations including the NHS, Public Health, Primary Care and private health organisations.

Area of expertise

Cath’s focus is on designing and delivering a broad spectrum of targeted health interventions which are underpinned by a rich evidence-base. She is passionate in her belief that our healthcare systems require continuous innovation to meet the needs of patients and providers, and that innovative early intervention and prevention interventions are key to supporting population health.

  1. Designing, planning and delivery of services and programmes that aim to influence the health of groups of people (‘populations’) at local and regional levels – from rationale through to delivery and evaluation.
  2. Development of evidence-based strategies that tackle health inequalities and the wider social determinants of health in order to create significant, positive health or behavioural outcomes.
  3. Use of Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) to assess the impact of interventions on health-related quality of life (HRQoL), develop an evidence-base and drive quality of service design.
  4. Undertaking qualitative and quantitative research.
  5. Project management from inception to evaluation.
  6. Working and delivering services as part of a consortia.

Key achievements

  1. Consultant to Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust; tasked to undertake staff engagement and Change Management in order to support the development of their Recovery College.
  2. Developed the UK’s first ‘Fit Note Clinics’ whilst working within Primary Care – an intervention that tackled poor health outcomes and unemployment.
  3. Track record of writing successful funding proposals and securing contracts.
  4. Acted as Sessional lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University with responsibility for teaching Statistics to first year BSc Applied Psychology students.
  5. Guest lecturer, Liverpool John Moores University – PGCert Improving Access to Psychological Therapies in Primary Care (IAPT).
  6. Represents Health Junction on several boards and community groups.

Nicky Fenton, Health and Wellbeing Coach

Background

Nicky is a qualified mentor and coach, with a passion for helping people to improve their health and wellbeing. Gaining experience initially by volunteering at a women’s centre supporting victims and survivors of domestic abuse, Nicky now works full time to empower women from all walks of life to gain the confidence, skills and knowledge they need to make positive, lasting life changes.

Area of expertise

Nicky works closely with Health Junction’s programme users, delivering services and maintaining excellent community ties with both patients and physicians.

She guides patients to produce a progression plan with goals they personally identify with, and uses different measures to help gain a clear picture of patient activation and emotional wellbeing levels. This ensures the programme is delivered at a pace which is comfortable and motivational to the individual.

Key achievements

  1. Maintaining a keen knowledge of community resources for specific areas of support and engagement.
  2. Working with patients to develop self-confidence and finding ways which work for the patient to manage anxiety, low mood, and depression.
  3. Connecting people to build their support and friendship circle and help patients to become the best they can be, enabling them to enjoy life and fulfil goals and aspirations.