Observer Members




Dr Derek Connolly
PCCS Observer Council Member, Consultant Interventional Cardiologist and Director of Research & Development, Birmingham City Hospital

Dr Derek Connolly is a Consultant Interventional Cardiologist and Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer at Birmingham City Hospital, Birmingham UK.

He trained in Cambridge, London, Edinburgh and San Diego where he was a Carnegie Scholar. He has a first class degree in Pharmacology from the University of Edinburgh where he was the Brunton medallist and Keasbey Bursary holder. His PhD in molecular cardiology is from the University of Cambridge.

He is the Chief or Primary Investigator of multiple large trials in Cardiovascular medicine.

He developed one of the UKs first primary angioplasty programmes, and one of the UKs largest cardiac CT programmes.

Dr Raj Thakkar
PCCS Observer Council Member (CKD representative), Primary Care GP – Clinical Lead with the National Cardiac Pathways Improvement Programme

Raj trained at University College London where he achieved a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience and completed his medical degree in 1999. He went on to a GP training programme in the Oxford deanery during which time he completed postgraduate membership exams of both the Royal College of General Practitioners and Physicians. Raj went on to win the national GP enterprise award in his division. He also completed an enhanced GP registrar post in cardiology.

Raj’s varied roles have included working as a GP partner since 2004, Clinical Commissioning Director for Bucks CCG in planned care, Cardiac Lead for Thames Valley Strategic Clinical Network, primary care cardiology lead for the Oxford Academic Health Science Network and atrial fibrillation champion for NHSIQ Thames Valley. He is also a member of the NHSE/I expert advisory group for heart failure and valve disease and is currently the national primary care workstream co-lead for the Cardiac Pathways Improvement Programme.

Raj has worked as a presenter on BBC Radio and is a medical writer, speaker, and advisor. He has written and published over 200 articles and several books including the MIMS consultation guide which won the BMA book of the year award in the category of medicine – 2012. He has achieved two atrial fibrillation pioneer awards, was a national finalist for GP of the year in 2017 and a national HSJ finalist – 2019 for his work in atrial fibrillation.

Paul Gilbert
PCCS Observer Council Member, Physician Associate

Paul Gilbert has been working as a Physician Associate for just over two years.

He studied Biomedical Sciences at Newcastle University, and then went on to the Physician Associate PGDip course, graduating with a distinction again from Newcastle University. Since qualifying he has been working in a split role between General Practice in North Shields and Cardiology at Sunderland Royal Hospital, working a mixture between acute care, outpatient clinics and community cardiology. He has also taken on the role of Cardiovascular Lead for North Shields PCN.