Meet The Team

Ravi Poorun
NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow (Paediatrics), University of Exeter

Ravi is a Paediatric Specialist Trainee in the South West Peninsula Deanery where he combines his clinical training with his research interests. Ravi studied Physiology & Pharmacology as an undergraduate at King’s College London before commencing medical training at Guy’s, King’s College, and St. Thomas’ Hospitals Medical School. In 2011, he was awarded the London Pain Consortium Wellcome Trust MBPhD studentship, and completed his DPhil from the University of Oxford under the supervision of Professor Rebeccah Slater. Here, Ravi sought to gain a better understanding of the development of pain perception in the human nervous system and understand the potential long-term effects of early neonatal exposure to painful and stressful events.

Clinically, Ravi aspires to work in paediatric and neonatal neurology, sleep and pain medicine. His long-term research goal is to identify methods of improving neurodevelopment outcomes in some of the smallest and most vulnerable of patients through minimising pain, stress, agitation, and anxiety. Currently, his interests lie in understanding how affective touch (mediated through C-Tactile fibres), between neonate and caregiver, can alleviate pain and discomfort and serve as a protective measure for positive neurdevelopmental outcomes.

Louise Rattenbury
Matron, Exeter Neonatal Unit

Louise’s background in midwifery and neonatal nursing has provided her with the knowledge and experience to enable neonatal families to be truly partners in their baby’s care. She is active in clinical work, research, leadership, and education, and believes that a close, loving, and safe relationship is the most important foundation for a healthy life. Louise is passionate about helping families develop good connections with their babies, no matter what barriers the situation might present.

Nagendra Venkata
Consultant Paediatrician, Clinical & Neurodevelopmental Lead For Neonatology, Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust

Maxine Thomson
Sister, Exeter Neonatal Unit

Maxine joined the Exeter neonatal team straight after qualifying as a children’s nurse in 2008. Early on, her focus was the family unit and providing the best care possible for the babies within the context of the family. In 2013, Maxine successfully progressed to the position of Neonatal Sister where she took on a more formal role within the developmental and family care team. She has taken lead on the Bliss baby charter audit, which was achieved in early 2019. Maxine has undertaken FINE (Family and Infant Neurodevelopmental Education) levels 1, 2 and 3, where most recently she embarked on the task of introducing ‘Parent Led Ward Rounds’ as the focus of her Quality Improvement (QI) project. In spite of her enthusiasm for the recent QI project, Maxine will always focus on nursing care at heart. She has a particular passion for preventing family separation through skin to skin kangaroo care.

Maxine feels privileged to be a part of such a progressive and forward thinking neonatal unit. She is very excited to be a part of future unit development which she knows will only bring the baby and the family even further into the forefront of neonatal care.

Tom Johnson
Staff Nurse, Exeter Neonatal Unit

After several years of working in acute paediatrics, Tom moved to neonatal care and has focused his efforts on the practice of stabilising sick neonates and infants and how the team can improve neonatal outcomes in the families that he cares for. His interests lie in the challenging area of neonatal pain, pharmacological and non-pharmacological methods to reduce infant stress, and a particular focus on the father’s role in neonatal care. He is an advocate for the importance of the father’s presence in the NNU, and the unique support they may require.

Vicky Jay
Counsellor, Exeter Neonatal Unit

Vicky Jay, MA MBACP (Accred.), has worked as a counsellor and psychotherapist within the NHS for 27 years. In addition to Diplomas in Counselling and Psychosexual therapy, Vicky is also an EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) Europe accredited practitioner. Therapy provided by her is generally loss, bereavement and/or trauma focussed.

Within the NNU, Vicky’s role is to provide on-site support to parents when requested. This can include some psycho-education and brief counselling. Parents are informed that they have the opportunity to self-refer themselves to the in-house Counselling Service following their baby’s discharge home. Vicky also facilitates the weekly ‘New Baby in the Family’ meeting, which is multi-disciplinary and considers the wider needs of the baby and their family. She also provides some teaching sessions regarding Loss and Grief, and Trauma to NNU staff.

Vicky’s interests are always to learn more about ways in which healthcare teams can psychologically and emotionally resource families, so that they can support their baby from as ‘grounded and stable’ a place possible. She aims to educate, stabilise, calm, and contain parents so that they can do the same for their child.

Hannah Hagan
Trust Doctor, Exeter Neonatal Unit

Hannah is a junior doctor planning to specialise in neonatology after several years of working in the field. Her main interests lie in patient safety and ways of improving neurodevelopmental and social outcomes for patients. Currently, her research ambitions are around the impact of parental presence and parental touch on both the short and long term outcomes of neonatal patients and their families. 


University of Exeter

Marc Goodfellow
Senior Lecturer in Mathematics

University of Oxford

Rebeccah Slater
Professor of Paediatric Neuroimaging

Great Ormond Street Hospital

Alan Worley
Lead Clinical Scientist

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