About Us

Nicola King, Director


Nicola has a reputation as one of the country’s leading experts in the legislation that set up CCGs and its implications for their governance and decision making arrangements. She acquired this reputation during 2011-13 when she took a secondment from her role as a PCT Assistant Chief Executive to work at the Department of Health on setting up the new NHS commissioning organisations that were later to become known as CCGs. Nicola was involved in writing much of the formal guidance as they were setting up and in 2018 was commissioned by NHS England to update and re-write the model constitution for CCGs in the context of changes to the legislation, guidance policy and CCGs working more closely together.

In the early days of NHS England she established and led a team which set up the successful network of Chief Clinical Officers, commissioned the Good Governance Institute to co-develop the governance toolkit for CCGs and delivered the Commissioning for Value programme for CCGs.

Nicola provides a unique blend of skills and experience drawing on her 26 years’ experience in the NHS as a clinician and clinical leader in the pharmacy profession as well as a senior manager and leader in the NHS. She now provides independent support to boards in the public and charity sector supporting them to improve their organisations.

Nicola also enjoys being a non-executive director.  She is currently a trustee of a national charity and has previously been on boards in social housing, education and a community interest company supporting troubled young people.

Nicola describes herself as a career butterfly and has actively sought new experiences and challenges over the years, constantly broadening her portfolio. She wants to continue her personal and professional development through thiNKnow.

Outside of work Nicola enjoys music and has recently started to learn singing. She’s enthusiastic but challenged!  Her favourite pastime is travelling with her husband.


Nina James, Senior Associate


Nina brings to thiNKnow a breadth of experience in public sector, academic and commercial roles as well as highly intuitive “people skills”.

Qualified as a Senior Biomedical Scientist within the NHS, Nina subsequently developed a successful research career, gaining a PhD in Human Genetics from the University of Southampton whilst working at the Wessex Regional Genetics Laboratory.  There followed several years in a drug discovery company where, as Director of Clinical Liaison, she developed and utilised advanced negotiating skills to enhance the company’s interactions with other pharmaceutical companies and also with the NHS.

In 2004 Nina returned to the NHS as an Associate Director at NHS Oldham which is where she met Nicola and found in her a like-minded lover of high quality output and variety of work streams.   In her years at Oldham she worked on a number of different projects, notably as Director of OD leading and developing the Human Resources and Education teams.  She also has significant experience in the field of major service reconfigurations, from the engagement and consultation phases’ right through to implementation.  As Assistant Director at the Children, Young People and Families’ Network her role in the Making it Better reconfiguration in Greater Manchester was to lead the implementation of the reconfiguration of neonatal services.

In 2010 Nina was seconded as Senior Fellow on the Healthy Places Healthy Lives programme commissioned by the Department of Health in response to the Marmot Review of Health Inequalities.  She led this programme in Warrington, working with key stakeholders including the local authority, the NHS and the civil sector.

Having gained additional qualifications in mentoring and coaching, Nina now enjoys using her experience to support the successful delivery of clients’ projects, working with them to develop a clearer understanding of complex situations and facilitating the identification and implementation of practical solutions.

Lara Barnish, Senior Associate

L2016-08-King-25-5274ara is known for her passion and commitment to support clinicians in the development of their services and the implementation of public policy.  She has demonstrated the ability to work across sectors and large populations with tenacity and leadership to identify a joint vision and ensure its delivery.

Prior to becoming an Associate to thiNKnow Lara was Director of Nursing for Pan Birmingham Cancer Network, where she led a number of work streams  including the development and production of guidelines, establishment of new systems and training within psychology, and the restructure of palliative care services.

Lara trained as a nurse at St Georges’ Hospital (London) in the late 1980s before working in the fields of intensive care and cancer in London and Australia.  She completed a BSc (hons) in Cancer Nursing at The Royal Marsden Hospital before moving to the Midlands to further a career as a clinical nurse specialist.  Her move to more senior management roles followed the successful completion of an MSc in Public Sector Management (with distinction) at Aston University.  Lara has previously enjoyed success working independently in consultancy for four years before being offered a permanent position by one of her clients.