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New chief executive and interim chair for West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust

Posted: 1 March 2019

Picture of Christine Allen and Phil TownsendExciting times lie ahead for West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which will be seeing a change in their two most senior leadership positions this week.

The trust, which runs Watford General, St Albans City and Hemel Hempstead hospitals, is delighted to announce that Christine Allen will be joining as chief executive on 4 March and Phil Townsend will be stepping up as interim chair from 1 March.

Watford-born Christine has spent more than 30 years in the NHS and is an experienced chief executive. She led her former trust, James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, to a CQC rating of ‘good’, maintained over three inspections during her five years in this role. Prior to that, Christine held various Board level roles at Northampton General Hospital, including acting chief executive, chief operating officer and director of strategy.

Christine will be taking over the role as chief executive from Helen Brown who has been acting chief executive for the past eight months. Helen will return to her previous as role as deputy chief executive.

The other change is a new role, but not a new face - Phil Townsend takes on the role of interim chair, having been the vice chair for five years and a non-executive director for nearly eight years. Phil has over 30 years’ experience leading highly complex system change and business transformation projects in commercial organisations. He was integral to the trust’s recent search for a new CEO and cares deeply about the redevelopment plans for the future of the hospital estate. He lives in St Albans and knows west Herts well.

Phil succeeds Professor Steve Barnett, who has been with the trust for the past three and a half years. He is leaving to take on a substantive role as chair of Queen Elizabeth Hospital Kings Lynn NHS Trust.

Christine Allen, the incoming chief executive, said: "I am delighted to be joining the strong leadership team at West Herts, particularly at such an exciting time. In the past week alone the trust has seen brilliant staff survey results, huge improvements in the CQC rating for the emergency department and is amongst the top five most improved trusts for staff flu vaccinations in the country. I am really looking forward to leading the organisation on its improvement journey and in securing the best possible outcome for the hospital redevelopment plans."


Notes to editors

  1. For more information, please contact the communications team on: 01923 436280 or email: For out of hours media enquiries please call the Watford General Hospital switchboard on 01923 244366 and ask for the on call communications manager.
  2. West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust serves people from across Hertfordshire, north London and further afield. It operates from three hospitals; Watford General, St Albans City and Hemel Hempstead. The trust has a catchment area of over 500,000 people and is one of the largest employers locally, with around 5,000 staff and volunteers.
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