NHS Lothian Local Infrastructure

In 2019, The South East Scotland Innovation Central Office was set up at Waverley Gate in Edinburgh. This is led by the Director of Innovation Prof. Tim Walsh and with oversight provided by the NHS Lothian Innovation Champion, Grahame Cumming. The core support team is managed by the Innovation Project Team Manager Samantha Smith.

The team work across the South East Scotland Innovation Network and in addition to supporting innovation projects, they are continually involved in developing further the networks of innovative solution providers, and at identifying potential sources of external funding through which to form innovation collaborations.

Professor Tim Walsh


Tim Walsh is Director of  Innovation for NHS Lothian, and Health Innovation South East Scotland. He is also Professor of Critical Care at the University of Edinburgh and Honorary Consultant in Critical Care at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

He is Head of the Academic Dept of Anaesthesia, Critical Care, and Pain Medicine in the University of Edinburgh, and Co-director of Acute Care Edinburgh a multidisciplinary research grouping in the University of Edinburgh Usher Institute.

Tim leads a multidisciplinary clinical research group with interests including transfusion medicine, sedation in the critically ill, recovery from critical illness and the epidemiology and prevention of ICU acquired infection. He has a particular interest in large pragmatic clinical trials, complex health intervention trials, and the evaluation of novel diagnostics and technologies in acute care. He is a past Chairman of the UK Critical Care Research Network and UK Critical Care Research Group.

Grahame Cumming

NHS Lothian Innovation Champion

Grahame is the NHS Lothian Innovation Champion, providing a central contact point within the Board and with external organisations in support of the delivery of the vision for a healthier and wealthier Scotland through open innovation collaboration activities.

This is an exciting role for him, as in addition to providing the opportunity for continual learning and engaging directly with a range of internal and external stakeholders – it enables him to draw upon his 27 years of strategic planning experience within NHS Lothian, which has seen him involved in service planning for a range of specialties and patient groups.

Grahame was a member of the local collaborative team that developed a successful award winning approach to the home monitoring of blood pressure that is now being spread across the country.

Outside of the NHS, Grahame is a Director of a charity that utilises the power of football to run lifelong learning, employability and health & wellbeing programmes in the community. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts and Manufacturing, which encourages and supports enlightened thinking to solve complex social problems.

Samantha Smith

Innovation Project Team Manager

Samantha graduated in 2012 with a first class BA (Hons) degree in International Business & Marketing from the University of Abertay, Dundee.

She joined NHS Education for Scotland in 2013 as a Senior Administrator and progressed to the role of Safety & Improvement Programme Manager within a year having gained further qualifications in Project Management. This allowed her to effectively manage the delivery of Scotland’s national quality improvement professional development programmes and associated events.

In November 2018, Samantha was approached by the NHS Scotland Office of the Chief Executive in Scottish Government to lead the Programme Development for the 2019 NHS Scotland Event. She was responsible for working with frontline NHS staff, Senior Scottish Government staff and partner organisations to develop session content that focused on how to address the current challenges faced in Scotland, with a collective approach to work across the whole of our health and social care system to deliver our priorities.

Recently joining NHS Lothian in October 2019, Samantha is responsible for overseeing the running of the East Region Innovation Office. She is excited to be able to provide a key support function for the delivery of transformational innovative change within the three NHS Boards (Borders, Fife and Lothian), whilst also contributing to the spread of healthcare innovation across NHS Scotland.

Samantha’s real passion lies with striving to improve the confidence and capability of those leading innovation and improvement across health & social care to support the delivery of frontline services and improve outcomes for families and the care they receive.

Outside of work, Samantha is a die-hard Hibs fan & Leith resident looking directly on to the theatre of dreams – Sam can often be found at Easter Road in her season ticket seat or touring Scotland on the supporters’ bus following her beloved team.

Robin Scott

Innovation Project Manager

Robin started working for NHS Lothian in 1994 as a part-time Medical Secretary whilst studying at Napier University – where she went on to achieve degrees in both Business and Finance. Having worked up the NHS Lothian corporate ladder, she eventually became a Business and Administration Manager working with external companies before undertaking further studies in Project Management. In 2019, Robin was successfully awarded the practitioner level Prince2™ accredited qualification which sparked her interest in a change in profession.

Now working as an Innovation Project Manager, Robin is supporting regional innovation projects that are proving to be exciting not only to herself – but to the NHS and the people of Scotland.  She believes that with the help of industry, academics and home grown talents, it is envisaged that together we can all make a difference to both the NHS and to the local economy and grow Scotland’s reputation as world class leaders in Innovation and Research & Development.

When Robin isn’t working or studying, she’s busy walking her dog, gardening, camping or you could even bump into her at a rally on her motorbike.

Veronica Arias

Innovation Project Manager

Veronica moved from Lima (Peru) to Edinburgh to study an MSc in Marketing following her first class BA (Hons) degree in Communications. More recently, she passed with merit an MSc in Psychological Studies and an MSc in Occupational Psychology following a BSc in Psychology.

She joined Scottish Widows as a Relationship Support Consultant for the Intermediary Sales Head Office Team and gained a Certificated in Financial Planning within a year of joining the company. Then moved to Standard Life as Research Sales Analyst where she collaborated in the implementation of a new Customer Relationship Management system.

Following her experience in change projects, she joined the Digital Health and Care Institute (DHI) as a Project Officer where she supported the delivery of around 100 collaborations between academia, businesses and third sector organisations. Here she gained a PRINCE2 accreditation and also supported the creation of DHI’s Demonstration and Simulation Environment, a space to experience digital capabilities and explore new ways of gathering, analysing and using citizen data to support preventative care.

Veronica is keen to deliver projects around mental health and work closer with front line staff. When she is not working or studying, she will probably be doing a portrait or wandering around an art gallery as she is passionate about art.

Amirah Aslam

Innovation Project Manager

Amirah is a graduate of Biomedical Sciences (Physiology) and has most recently completed a MSc in Forensic Anthropology. She has clinical working experience within both primary and secondary care settings within NHS Tayside and Lothian. These roles were within Cardiac Physiology, Respiratory Physiology and Blood Sciences.

After completing her MSc, Amirah completed a fixed term position as Scientific Officer for the East of Scotland Research Ethics service in 2019. Since then, she has gained PRINCE 2 accreditation and worked within the Information Governance and Data Protection office at NHS Fife. Here, she worked closely with the R & D department, represented NHS Fife on the PBPP panel, dealt with the daily data protection queries and risks arising around the business and was responsible for submitting applications to the Caldicott Guardian.

Amirah is passionate about tackling health inequalities and mental health disparities within Scotland. She is looking forward to working on projects that will facilitate the health and care of vulnerable patients. In her free time she enjoys travelling, painting and volunteering at her local food bank.

Ryan Orr

Innovation Project Manager

Ryan has a BA in Business Studies from the University of Stirling with a most recent MSc in Computing at Napier University.

Having worked in many sectors such as telecommunications, retail, private and public accommodations sites Ryan most up to date role was in healthcare for one of America’s biggest health care companies where his role consisted of remote implantation of software, customer relations and data manipulation. Seeing how a privatised health care system worked he found a new appreciation for the NHS and joined in 2021.

Beginning his career in the e-Health customer service team he contributed to some large-scale IT projects such as the role out of Windows 10 devices across Lothian hospitals and local GP’s, as well as more technical projects such as a Theatres TrakCare project involving the introduction of Screens and devices to help with the migration from ORSOS to TrakCare. With this extensive work experience Ryan was able to secure a secondment opportunity here within the innovation team.

Ryan is passionate about machine learning and creating patient pathways using dashboards and applications. With a keen interest in new emerging technology, he will be a great asset for the HISES team.

Outside of work you’ll find Ryan throwing a ball for his dog Roxy or spending time with family and friends. You may also see him eating his way through Edinburgh restaurants with his love for food.

Isabel Halfhide

Innovation Project Support Officer

Isabel is our most recent edition to the team having joined in November 2022 in the role of Innovation Project Support Officer.

She graduated from the University of Aberdeen in the summer of 2022 with a first-class honours degree in History and Philosophy, where she specialised in Feminist and Disability Bioethics for her undergraduate dissertation. Whilst at University, Isabel enjoyed volunteering for a local children’s bereavement charity and being involved in multiple societies where she held committee positions of Secretary and then President.

After jobs in hospitality and fundraising, Isabel joined the NHS as a Contact Tracer for NHS Scotland Test and Protect in 2021. She enjoyed contributing to the fight against COVID-19 and gaining valuable administrative skills.

As Innovation Project Support Officer, Isabel provides administration support to the rest of the team. She is excited to be joining a team in such an interesting field and is enjoying learning about healthcare innovation and contributing to valuable projects.

Having recently moved to Edinburgh, when not working Isabel can be found exploring the city and spending time with family and friends.