Welcome our new members

By March 30, 2024Public

Meet the latest new members to join the Medical Journalists’ Association,  the largest membership organisation for health and medical journalists in the UK.

New MJA member, Tharanika Ahillan

Tharanika Ahillan is a junior doctor with a passion for journalism and a commitment to “bringing honest, emotive and powerful news to the public”.

She is currently undertaking NCTJ-accredited qualification joins as a student member. She says, “I have strong research and data analytical skills, with a penchant for communicating complex scientific and health topics in an engaging and easy-to-understand manner in particular.

Anti-racism resources

“Experience writing academic papers, including ‘Decolonising ideas of healing in medical education’ which was listed in the BMJ’s anti-racism resources in 2020, and lead-author of a systematic review. Experience writing for online news websites and in conducting interviews with experts in their field, both within a team and individually. Eager to gain experience in journalism and propel my career in this industry.

You can follow Tharanika on X, formerly Twitter, at @TAhillan.

Women’s health

Phoebe Davis is a reporter at Tortoise Media and joins as a full member of the MJA. She focuses on women’s health and reproductive rights, but has also covered the UK’s Covid Inquiry, the Sackler family investment in UK universities, the Palantir NHS England contract, the introduction of Martha’s Rule in hospitals and the legal battles over critically ill children’s care.

She is an NCTJ-qualified journalist with an MA in Journalism from the University of Sheffield. Her writing has appeared in the Daily Mirror, the Sunday Times and the Daily Telegraph. Before joining Tortoise, she worked as a freelance researcher for Unreported World and Channel 4 Dispatches and with major Iranian network ManotoTV.

You can follow Phoebe on X, formerly Twitter, at @phoebe_ivy.

Share knowledge

Asif Qasim is a doctor and freelance journalist who joins as and associate member of the MJA. He is a regular contributor to medshr.net, a platform developed by doctors to, “Share knowledge. Save Lives”.

He reports and writes on medical education, medical science news and pharmaceutical developments, including reporting on trial data and medical developments from medical congresses.

You can follow Asif on X, formerly Twitter, at @DrAsifQasim

Fake news

Craig Kirkwood

Craig Kirkwood is also joining as a student member. He is a final-year journalism student at Ulster University Coleraine on the North coast of Northern Ireland.

He is currently working on his dissertation covering misinformation and fake news and its effect on public policy and in particular public health. He says, “While I’m at the start of my career I’m hoping to work towards a career as a health journalist.”

You can follow Craig on X, formerly Twitter, at @kirkwood_media.

Health policy

Michael Searles, Health Correspondent at the Telegraph becomes a full time member. After completing his masters in journalism at City, University  of London Michael worked as a freelance before taking on a number of communications roles within the NHS.

Since joining the Telegraph as Health Correspondent in August 2023, Michael has covered a wide range of issues including health policy, medical advances, the NHS and the latest studies and research. Click here to read his Telegraph articles.

You can follow Michael on X, formerly Twitter, at @michaelsearles_

Highly commended

Pharmaceutical Journal reporter Tammy Driver  started her career as a news reporter, working on regional and national newspapers, before joining the BMA as a senior writer for the BMA in 2012 and becoming a features writer  the following year.

In 2016 my feature on healthcare workforce issues for BMA News (now known as The Doctor) was highly commended in the online category of the Health Writing Awards.

Between 2019 and 2023 she worked as a freelance journalist specialising in digital health and healthcare technology. Then in 2023 she took on the role of reporter for The Pharmaceutical Journal, the membership magazine of the Royal Pharmaceutical Association.

Sky News

Another new full member is Alice Udale-Smith who has recently become the Health Producer at Sky News, having previously served as Science and Tech producer since 2021.

Previous roles including having worked as a data journalist at the Times and Sunday Times, where she used Freedom of Information requests to expose the extent of agency spending by local councils and production assistant at ITN where she worked on NHS in Crisis – the Live Debate (Channel 5).

You can follow Alice on X, formerly Twitter, at @aliceudalesmith

Benefits of joining

If you are a journalist covering health and medicine, a medic who writes, a communications professional working for a health charity or health-related academic or non-profit organisation, or a student hoping to carve out a career in our sector, click here for more information on the benefits of becoming a member, eligibility and how to join.

Membership provides access to a host of resources, access to MJA events, discounts and the opportunity for freelancers to advertise their skills in our Directory of MJA members who are available for commissions, report writing, media training and other specialist communications services.

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