Meet the team

Executive committee

Dr Matt Kneale, DAUK co-chair


Matt is a foundation doctor working in Manchester. Prior to medical school he was involved in global health research and part of the team that pushed for better access globally to essential antimicrobials. His main clinical interests are acute general medicine and infectious diseases.

Outside medicine he enjoys photography, playing guitar, and travelling.

High profile controversies such as the junior doctor contract dispute in 2016, and the Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba case, have led to him becoming a vocal supporter for the rights of medical professionals and is eager to push for better safeguards for doctors.

Head and shoulders image of DAUK co-chair Ms Helen Fernandes

Ms Helen Fernandes, DAUK co-chair and Learn Not Blame co-chair 


Helen is a consultant neurosurgeon. She trained in the north east but most of her
consultant years have been at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge.

Helen has always been active in women
in surgery issues, and chaired the Women in Surgery Group for six years. She is passionate about diversity in the medical workplace  and in addressing just culture, learn not blame, and doctors’ disciplinary procedures. With support from the Whistleblowers Association UK she put together a proposal for changes in disciplinary measures against doctors at Trust level.


At least 20 years after her last postgraduate surgical exam, she enrolled on a law conversion course. Helen wants to make a difference and regards DAUK as the group
to achieve that.

Dr Ayan Basu, vice-chair


Ayan joined the DAUK committee in 2020, after he read about disparities in Covid deaths. His medical studies were preceded by vaccine and immunotherapy research.  After lower vaccine uptake in some communities, Ayan was a spokesperson to help clarify benefits versus risks. As a doctor Ayan’s interests include medical education, Covid, and clinical neurosciences. He’s also interested in structural determinants of health, such as poverty and education.

Ayan enjoys drawing and painting, and developed visuals and researched Fair Say for Fair Pay, DAUK’s campaign for pay restoration.

Ayan has facilitated a series of DAUK membership events, from Expedition Medicine to Q&As with inspirational speakers such as Dr Beth Lewis and Mr Omer Karim.

Ayan is concerned how the interplay between life factors, workplace issues, and burnouts can impact doctors’ health and careers. He hopes we can find ways to safeguard the wellbeing of doctors lower in the hierarchy, and also embrace #EDI principles in the NHS.

Dr Elizabeth Toberty, GP lead


Lizzie has been a GP for almost five years and while recognising it can be crazily stressful, says nothing beats getting the care right for our patients.

She has a keen interest in leadership and is a North East organiser for Next Generation GP. It is her belief that we need to inspire future doctors to choose GP as a career, but also make our working culture better to draw them in, which is partly why she’s at DAUK. 

At work she loves all things women’s health and all the complex interaction in GP between the physical and the mental five.

Dr Elissa Abi-Raad, treasurer


Elissa was born in Beirut, Lebanon. Her Bachelors degree was in Biology, and she worked in cancer research for a year then graduated with an MBBS from St George’s, London. Her family are solicitors and barristers, so she’s the black sheep who wanted to become a doctor. Elissa is a GP trainee with an interest in urgent care, medicolegal issues, and increasing representation of minorities in medicine. She has a lot of insight into the difficulties IMGs face in the UK and is passionate about helping in any way possible. Elissa speaks English, French, Arabic, Italian, and Greek.

Her hobbies are painting, drawing, classic and super-cars. She is also an animal advocate and a coffee addict.

Dr Pushpo Hossain, IMG lead


Pushpo is an international medical graduate (IMG) from Bangladesh, who joined the NHS in January 2020 and DAUK in November 2020. She’s passionate about making the NHS a comfortable and safe place for IMGs. The launch of Overseas NHS Workers Day was led by her with DAUK, and she continues to advocate for indefinite leave to remain for international health care workers who worked during the pandemic. 

She is a non-trainee locally employed doctor and has worked in a number of specialities of acute medicine and critical care medicine, but is currently pursuing her interest in medical education as a clinical teaching fellow.

Pushpo is the founder of the virtual teaching programme ‘Tackling the NHS Culture Shock ‘ for IMGs for which she won the highly recommended trainee award in RCP regional poster competition. She also presented her work at the National Developing Excellence in Medical Education Conference (DEMEC). She is constantly working on projects to train IMGs to help them navigate the NHS, which are inspired by her experiences.

Shonnelly Novintan, Learn Not Blame co-chair     

Shonnelly is a core surgical trainee based in the east of England. She studied at Imperial College, London, where she was awarded the President’s Scholarship and graduated with an MBBS and BSc in Haematology. During her F1 Year, she sat her postgraduate exams in surgery, awarding her membership of the Royal College of Surgeons.
She has since taken an interest in breast surgery and workplace culture. She has been published on returning to work culture and is working on a project exploring the impact of investigations and suspensions on doctor welfare, which was presented at the ASGBI meeting in 2023.
In her spare time, Shonnelly is an associate lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University and volunteers with CLEFT, where she is a trustee and runs the trainee section.  She is co-chair of DAUK;s Learn not Blame Committee, and enjoys taking on casework supporting doctors who have been mistreated in the workplace.

Mr Dolin Bhagawati, committee member


Dolin has trained in Neurosurgery over the past decade, having qualified from Oxford and UCL. He is currently researching into novel surgical drug delivery in paediatric brain tumours and neurological disorders. 

He has a particular interest in immigration and health, and has had experience dealing with stressful immigration issues for his family.

He is passionate about improving conditions for NHS staff and patients having had close members of his family treated for critical conditions.

Deanna Evans, committee Member


Born and raised in North-East India and now a GP partner based in West Wales in a small rural practice. Worked in India after graduation in rural healthcare settings which gives insight into how healthcare systems affect delivery of care to patients. Moved to the UK in 2004 and working as a GP for the last 13 years, after finishing the training here. Passionate about patients and their care and trying to raise the ADR issue, which affects families here in the UK who have left their parents behind, with a hope to raise conversations and debates about it.

Loves plants and doing some knitting and crochet when time permits.

Dr Matt Lee, sustainability lead


Matt is an FY3 doctor based in north Wales. He joined DAUK in 2022 on the membership team before becoming the sustainability lead. He studied at Cardiff University, joining several societies including the Wilderness and Expedition Medicine Society, and volunteered as a community first responder.

He has a long-standing interest in nature and conservation, and combines these with his advocacy work on the climate crisis. Matt is studying for a Masters in Environment and Human Health.

In his spare time he enjoys outdoor activities, playing squash, and playing the trombone with his local brass band.

Dr Silan Fidan, committee member

Dr Silan Fidan is a Junior Doctor currently working in London. Her time studying for a Master’s degree in Public Health crystallised her interest in addressing the socioeconomic and systems level determinants of health.

Silan feels passionate about campaigning for a well funded NHS that preserves its core principles of compassion and inclusivity, thereby tackling a culture of blame, hostility and otherisation.

Silan looks forward to working with DAUK to advocate for fellow colleagues and patients.

Dr Meenal Viz, committee member


During 2020, Meenal protested outside Downing Street, while heavily pregnant, to fight for the protection of healthcare workers and pregnant women working on the covid frontlines.

Her desire to campaign was fuelled by the fact she was going to give birth to her daughter and she wanted her to come into a world where she knew how important it is to fight for the truth and stand up for those who don’t have a voice. You can read more about why Meenal protested here.

She harnessed worldwide media attention, took the government to court and demanded the law was changed to hold the NHS and ministers accountable for providing inadequate PPE.

In September 2020, Meenal featured on the cover of British Vogue as Edward Enninful’s top 21 activists and campaigners who are working towards a more hopeful world and future.

She is currently working with the United Nations (Project Halo) to help promote vaccine confidence and help move the world towards a safer future. 

Through her podcast, Meenal’s World, she interviews changemakers and the greatest thinkers of our generation. 

“I believe that my role as a doctor goes beyond the walls of the hospital. If we want to create lasting change, we must use our voice and platform to speak up – doctors can play a vital role in democracy and I sincerely hope that working with The Doctor’s Association will allow me to work towards this goal.”

Penelope Sucharitkul, editorial lead       


Penny is a medical student at the University of Leeds, and joined DAUK as a co-founder of the Liveable NHS Bursary campaign. She expressed an interest in medical journalism early in her career, joining the BMJ Cleggs as a 2021 scholar. As someone from a disadvantaged background, she is passionate about diversity and widening access to medicine. She was a key contributor to the University’s student access scheme 2025, holding the university to account for their attainment gap in postgraduates. Penny successfully campaigned for the reimbursement of GMC fees and an increase to Leeds financial support for the most vulnerable medical students at her University.

Our Committee

Medical student lead

Anna Sigston

EDI (Equality, diversity, inclusion) lead

Main Committee Members

Dr Matt Kneale, Ms Helen Fernandes, Dr Kaveri Julanndhwala, Dr Rich Gilpin, Dr George Oommen, Dr Freya Rhodes, Dr Alison Gill, Dr Silan Fidan, Dr Meenal Viz, Dr Jack Close

GP Committee Members

Dr Lizzie Toberty, Dr Steve Taylor, Dr Deanna Evans, Dr Ellen Welch, Dr Louise Hyde, Dr Elizabeth Croton, Dr Beejj Shah, Dr Rosie Shire, Dr Farihah Tariq

Learn Not Blame Committee

Dr Matt Bigwood, Ms Helen Fernandes, Dr David Nicholl, Dr Alison Gill, Dr Silan Fidan, Dr Jacob Barnes

Medical students

Anna Sigston, Penny Sucharitkul, Michaela Vernon, Trisha Suji,

Paid staff (part time)

Lucy Stratton (marketing, legal services, membership,, Andy Mann (press officer). Press enquiries to: