Isla studied at the University of Glasgow, beginning her healthcare career with the National Society for Epilepsy at their HQ, which is a centre of excellence in epilepsy research and treatment, before returning to university for postgraduate studies, followed by secondary teacher training. Isla later also taught in Community Education and FE teaching Psychology, Philosophy, Religious Studies and other social science courses. She worked in the Voluntary Sector, mainly focused on mental health organisations, with roles in advocacy, community support and programme design and delivery. She joined the NHS in 2008 and has held various roles in Patient and Public Involvement and Patient Experience since then. This included 5 years at BTHFT in the Chief Nurse team supporting patient experience and involvement work across the Trust, including some PPI work with BIHR staff and projects, such as the introduction of Patient Research Ambassadors and NIHR campaigns.
Isla led development of PPI for the West Yorkshire Clinical Research Network including raising awareness of research, improving involvement in design of studies, giving patients and the public a voice in deciding research priorities, supporting researchers to write Plain English information, and improving feedback to and from participants.
Isla’s previous role was Head of Patient and Carer Experience and Involvement with Bradford District Care Trust where she co-produced a significant Involvement Strategy ‘ Your Voice Matters’. While this role focused more on services, she continued supporting researchers with PPI. Isla champions co-production and has influenced policy and practice to bring people more into decision-making and power-sharing and worked to improve diversity and inclusion.