International Women’s Day is a worldwide event that celebrates women’s achievements – from the political to the social – while calling for gender equality. It has been observed since the early 1900s and is now recognised each year on 8 March.

Read up on some of the achievements of women within NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) who share an insight into their career journies and the work that they are doing that enables NHSBT to save and improve lives.

Dr Ying Li – Senior Data & Bioinformatics Manager

“I was born and raised in Daqing, in Heilongjiang province, North East China. Studying science had been part of my life as I grew up.

Dr Ying-Li

I received my first degree in bio-engineering and then completed my PhD in Bioinformatics at the University of Liverpool at the age of 25. During my PhD, I focused on developing efficient combinatorial algorithms for DNA Microarray design. DNA microarray is among the most important tools in genome sequencing, which allows measuring the expression for thousands of genes simultaneously by analysing the hybridisation data.

This style of learning has equipped me with the skills necessary to become a competent self-directed learner and the qualities required to work as part of a multidisciplinary team. After completing my PhD, I worked as a bioinformatics specialist and then promoted to be a senior bioinformatics manager in Stem Cell Donation and Transplantation, at NHSBT.

I am responsible for the management of all data aspects related to the British Bone Marrow Registry (BBMR) and NHS Cord Blood Bank (NHS CBB) and providing leadership and management of research and development of the donor follow up and patient follow up studies.

I think it’s important to let the world recognise the achievements of women, and the gender gap persists globally.”


Angela Ditchfield – Specialist Nurse Organ Donation

Angela Ditchfield

Being a full time working mum is challenging to say the least, although since becoming a Specialist Nurse Organ Donation I have seen and done some amazing things which I never believed possible.

I have met some incredibly brave families who think of others in their darkest hours and courageous recipients who live to tell the tale.

Working in East Lancashire has given me the opportunity to work closely with the South Asian community providing education about organ donation and allowing me to learn about different cultures. I was priviledged to be given the Mary Seacole Leadership award in 2015 which allowed me to travel to South Korea to present my own research project and I have also visited America to see how the transplant world differs from here in the U.K.

I am learning new things everyday about the world of transplant which is exciting but also rewarding. In April I will commence my new role as Diversity Lead Nurse organ donation which I am looking forward to and  hope that I can work towards changing attitudes to organ donation in our multicultural society.

Jazz Sehmi – Diversity and Inclusion Manager

Jazz Sehmi

Having recently been appointed as the Diversity and Inclusion Manager confirms NHSBT’s commitment towards this important area of work. Not only does my role focus on ensuring we meet the requirements of current and planned equality and diversity legislation but also looks to develop and implement initiatives that supports the broad diversity agenda.

Evidence shows that diversity and inclusion leads to more innovation, more opportunities for all, better access to talent, and better business performance.

International Women’s Day is a great way of showcasing and taking time to celebrate our talent from all areas of the organisation.

Dr Gail Miflin – Research and Medical Director

Dr Gail Miflin

I am Medical and Research Director in NHSBT, a role I have held since June of last year – 2016. Having spent more than 20 years seeing and treating patients in hospitals I decided to change the direction of my career into more of a strategic and leadership role. Whilst I sometimes miss speaking to patients every day I love the opportunity to make a difference for more people by challenging and setting policy, helping to deliver and promote research as well as helping the organisation become ever more efficient, safer and an even better place to work. My role brings together many aspects of my previous work in stem cell transplantation and caring for patients with haemoglobin disorders as well as a role in continuous improvement – for me it’s the perfect job that also allows me to flex to see my kids and family and maintain a work life balance that works for me.


Highlights of my career

1991 qualified
1994-2001 Trained in haematology in Nottingham doing research into recovery following allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell transplants. Then in Yorkshire for the rest of my specialist training
2002-2012 Haematologist specialising in treating patients with red cell disorders at Royal free hospital and UCLH
2003-2006 Seconded to south east London strategic health authority part time for three years to learn about clinical systems improvements
2010 joined NHSBT (initially part time)
2012 Associate Medical director
2016 Medical and Research director


Ebony DunkleySenior Sister Nottingham Mobile Team

Ebony Dunkley

As part of International Women’s Day my commitment is to be bold and not give in to feelings of self-doubt and to rise to every challenge.

Read on for a quick insight into my career journey to date:

2004 – I started my degree in Adult Nursing part time (Single mum) over 4 and half years
2009 – Qualified as a Registered Adult Nurse as a Band 5 and worked on an Acute Medical Admissions ward.
2011 – Promoted to a Deputy Sister secondment for 3 months (Band 6 ). After 8 weeks I asked to be interviewed for the substantive post, due to demonstrating best practice, motivating and engaging the team.
2012 – Secondment as a band 7 to work and develop a new Emergency/ Short Stay unit
2014 – Ward Sister/ Manager (Band 7) Developing a new Health Care of the older person ward (Acute Medicine)
2015 – Senior Sister for Nottingham Mobile Team NHSBT
2017 – Supporting BAME marketing

Dr Shubha Allard MD FRCP FRCPath – Consultant Haematologist in Transfusion Medicine 

Dr Shubha Allard

My role is a joint one at Barts Health NHS Trust and NHS Blood and Transplant, UK. I am actively involved in education and is Clinical Tutor at NHSBT. I am the Vice Chair of the British Society for Haematology Guidelines Committee developing national haematology guidelines. I was recently elected onto the Board of the International Society of Blood Transfusion.

The theme for International Women’s Day in 2017 is really important to highlight that women have great qualities and potential – they are highly effective team players but they must also have the confidence to step forward into leadership roles.


Harj Toor – Head of Business Analysis

Harj Toor

I have recently joined NHSBT as Head of Business Analysis having worked for many years within the Business Analysis sector. My last role was in West Midlands Police, absorbed in the WMP 2020 programme in partnership with Accenture, to transform how policing is delivered across the West Midlands by 2020 to help make savings around £130 million and reduction of workforce of 2500 posts.

I am very passionate about Business Analysis and the value this specialist discipline can add to any organisation. Due to this passion I was approached for a role as an examiner by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT. As an examiner I conduct oral examinations for the BCS International Diploma in Business Analysis, ensuring candidates are examined fairly and rigorously during their oral examinations.

The attraction for me for working for NHSBT is my immediate connection with the public sector as I have over 10 years experience in this sector working with many Business Analysts, project managers, and IT professionals over the years, designing, integrating and implementing IT systems to protect the public and help those in need. This,together with my passion for Business Analysis and what I feel is a true opportunity for NHSBT to be the leading light for improving and saving lives is why I am here.

My overall vision is to create a truly engaged, valued team that leads the way for Business Change, bringing alive the NSHBT ‘save and improve lives’ aspiration.

Katherine Robinson – Deputy Director of Workforce

Katherine Robinson

My name is Katherine Robinson and Deputy Director of Workforce and I have been employed by NHS Blood and Transplant for over 9 years.

I started my career in HR as a Personnel and Training Assistant, which involved advertising jobs, administering contracts and interviewing. I studied for my professional qualifications whilst working part time, completing my Post Graduate Diploma at Portsmouth Hospitals before moving to The Royal West Sussex NHS Trust where I then undertook my Msc in Strategic Human Resource Management as a Trainee Personnel Adviser.

I think that opportunities are there to be seized, you just have to recognise them and take a risk sometimes. I have also been fortunate to have had fantastic support from all managers I have worked for, who have encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and pushed me to do the best I can.

I commenced employment on a job share basis at NHSBT in 2007 moving to 4 days as by then I had a young family. I appreciate the challenges presented in finding a good work life balance when trying to juggle a young family and a demanding and fast paced role but find have found my network and support at NHSBT has continued to be excellent.

I enjoy coaching others to challenge themselves to be the best that they can be and am always happy to mentor those seeking support in building confidence in others to ‘step out of their comfort zone’.

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