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The trust board

Board overview

The trust is managed overall by a trust board consisting of non-executive directors and executive directors, chaired by Phil Townsend.

The executive Team

The executive team is responsible for the day-to-day management of the trust in accordance with the trust's policy and national, statutory or other relevant guidance. The executive directors are full-time employees of the trust. It is a requirement that the board has a chief executive, chief financial officer, chief nurse, chief medical officer, and one other, who are eligible to vote. It may also appoint additional board members to cover other functions, but they will not be voting members of the board.

The Non-Executive Directors

The non-executive directors are drawn from the local community and are appointed through a recruitment process managed by NHS Improvement following advertisements in the local press. Generally, non-executive directors are selected with a view to representing the cultural, ethnic and business composition of the local community. They are expected to bring the community's perspective to the management of the trust and to provide an independent overview of the work of the trust's executive functions.

Chairman and Non-Executive Directors

Phil Townsend, Chairman

Picture of Phil Townsend, ChairmanAppointed chairman in February 2020, Phil is the longest serving board member and was vice chair for five years and non-executive director since December 2011.

Phil comes from a commercial background, having spent over 30 years in the complex telecommunications industry, focused on IT and business transformation.

He chairs the board meetings and board development. Phil attends remuneration and finance and performance committees as a standing member.


Ginny Edwards, Vice Chair and Freedom to Speak up Guardian

Ginny joined the board in 2014 and was appointed vice chair in March 2019. She is also the lead for Freedom to Speak Up.

Ginny is a registered nurse, and has been working within the NHS and the healthcare industry since 1975.

She's held a number of director-level positions in organisations and at national level and is a Trustee of Peace Hospice Care.

Ginny chairs the quality committee, is a member of the remuneration and charity committees, and the nominated reserve member for the finance and performance committee

Follow Ginny Edwards on Twitter: @Edwards1Ginny


John Brougham, Non-Executive Director

Picture of John Brougham, Non-Executive DirectorJohn Brougham joined the board in January 2014. He has 40 years’ experience of working in large and small businesses, mainly in the technology and telecoms sectors, including 22 years at BT (British Telecom) where he was a divisional finance director.

He has served as a non-executive director on the boards of both private and public limited companies, and has also been audit committee chair. Currently John is an independent non-executive director of Technetix Ltd, where he is also chair of the audit committee.

John chairs the finance and performance committee and is a member of the audit and remuneration committees.


Paul Cartwright, Non-Executive Director

Picture of Paul Cartwright, Non-Executive DirectorPaul was appointed to the board in June 2014 and worked for Accenture (management consultants) for more than 20 years, where he specialised in finance, risk management and regulation.

He is a Member of Council of King's College London and volunteers for Open Door St Albans, a charity that supports homeless people in and around the city.

Paul chairs the audit and remuneration committees, is a member of the people, education and research committee and is the nominated reserve for the charity and quality committees.

Helen Davis, Associate Non-Executive Director

Photo of Helen Davis, Associate Non-Executive DirectorHelen was appointed as an Associate Non-Executive Director in 2020. She has over 30 years’ experience of the NHS working in both operational delivery and in a strategic advisory capacity. Helen has a background in all stages of the NHS estates and capital investment processes from strategic planning, through to business case approval, procurement and into construction and operation. She was previously UK Head of Health for an international advisory company and was the private sector Director on two NHS/private Strategic Estates Partnerships.

In addition Helen is a local Justice of the Peace.


Natalie Edwards, Associate Non-Executive Director

Photo of Natalie Edwards, Associate Non-Executive Director

Natalie was appointed associate non-executive director in 2019. She has 20 years' extensive HR experience working in both strategic and operational roles.

She has a strong track record of delivering business focused people strategies and transformation change projects.

Natalie chairs the trust's people, education and research committee, is a member of the remuneration committee, and is the nominated reserve for the audit committee.


Jonathan Rennison Non-Executive Director (Senior Independent Director)

Picture of Jonathan Rennison, Non-Executive DirectorJonathan Rennison joined the board in 2014 and has over 20 years’ experience of working in the education, voluntary and public sectors. He currently runs an organisation which provides coaching for private businesses, as well as public sector and voluntary organisations and his expertise lies in helping leadership teams to manage change and development.

Jonathan chairs the charity committee and is a member of the remuneration and quality committees and the nominated reserve for the people, education and research committee.


Chief Executive and Executive Directors

Christine Allen, Chief Executive

Picture of Christine Allen, Chief ExecutiveAppointed chief executive in March 2019. Christine has worked for the NHS for over 30 years, most recently as chief executive at James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation trust.

Prior to that, she has held various board level roles at Northampton General, including acting chief executive, chief operating officer and director of strategy.

She has also led service transformation and held senior positions in business development and IT in her NHS career.

Helen Brown, Deputy Chief Executive

Picture of Helen Brown, Acting Chief ExecutiveHelen has an in depth understanding of the NHS developed over a 20-year career in North and East London. She joined West Hertfordshire Hospitals as director of transformation in September 2014.

She has worked in both provider and commissioning organisations, with a focus on community and integrated care service development and major service change.

Helen’s role is to ensure that the trust has a clear approach to delivering and sustaining transformational change so that the trust, working closely with its patients and partners, is able to improve continuously the quality, responsiveness and sustainability of its services.


Michael van der Watt, Chief Medical Officer

Picture of Michael Van der Watt, Medical DirectorMichael joined the trust in 2011 as a consultant cardiologist becoming divisional director of medicine a year later. He was appointed as the trust's chief medical officer in April 2013.

He initially qualified in Cape Town, South Africa, and specialised in internal medicine at Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town. Michael immigrated to the UK in 1995 to specialise in cardiology, and has developed his particular interests in interventional cardiology, echocardiography, and pacemaker implantation.

His responsibilities include providing strong management and leadership to improve patient experience, and maintaining the trust's commitment to safe and efficient patient care.

Follow Michael van der Watt on Twitter: @Mikevanderwatt


Don Richards, Chief Financial Officer

Picture of Don Richards, Chief Financial OfficerDon joined the trust at the end of June 2014 having previously been director of finance for Bedford Hospital NHS Trust.

After working as a biochemist with ICI pharmaceuticals, Don worked as an auditor and consultant with Coopers and Lybrand (now PwC)

He returned to the NHS, first at St Mary’s Hospital NHS Trust and then built over 20 years’ experience in director roles for a number of NHS organisations, mostly in the acute sector but also including Central London Community Healthcare.

Don has been a member of the NHS bank technical support team, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy Health Panel and the Healthcare Financial Management Association Board.

Follow Don Richards on Twitter: @DonRichardsNHS.


Tracey Carter, Chief Nurse & Director of Infection Prevention and Control

Picture of Tracey Carter, Chief Nurse & Director of Infection Prevention and ControlTracey has over 30 years' experience as a nurse and has held several senior positions - most recently as deputy chief nurse at Barts Health.

She is passionate about ensuring high standards of care to improve the patient experience and believes that listening to staff, patients and carers and working with the communities we serve is key to understanding this.

Tracey chairs a number of meetings, including Safeguarding and Infection Prevention and Control, and also sits on several committees.

In May 2019, she received a prestigious Chief Nursing Officer award.

Follow Tracey Carter on Twitter: @CarterTreacle


Sally Tucker, Chief Operating Officer

Picture of Sally Tucker, Chief Operating OfficerAppointed in November 2016, Sally is responsible for the day to day operational management of the trust through clinical and general management coordination.

She aims to achieve the delivery of all national and local organisational targets through the management and continuous quality improvement of clinical services. Sally has worked extensively within the NHS for over 35 years, initially joining as a management trainee.

Her previous roles include deputy mental health services manager and deputy director of strategy and corporate services.

She is also a member of many committees, including the finance and performance committee and people, education and research committee.

Follow Sally on Twitter: @westherts_coo


Paul da Gama, Chief People Officer

Picture of Paul da Gama, Director of WorkforcePaul joined the trust in summer 2014 as chief people officer after joining the NHS in 2012 as director for human resources at Hinchingbrooke Hospital.

Paul began his career as a teacher, working in Japan and Poland. He then joined the banking group, HSBC, as a graduate trainee where he worked for 10 years in a variety of roles including being a member of the team that helped set up their internet banking service.

He joined Royal Mail Group in 2003 where he held a variety of different senior HR roles and was actively involved in helping to raise millions of pounds for a variety of national charities.

Paul's main responsibilities are to ensure that the trust has a well resourced, well trained and engaged workforce.


Paul Bannister, Chief Information Officer

Picture of Paul Bannister, Interim Chief Information Officer

Paul was appointed chief information officer in 2019. Paul is a qualified accountant with 15 years' NHS experience and brings extensive experience in commissioning, financial and acute contract management to his current role.

He has held previous roles at North East London Commissioning Support Unit (NELCSU) as director of contracting and analytics and as chief operating officer, building the largest and most successful commissioning support unit in England.


Dr Andrew Barlow, Divisional Director for Medicine

Picture of Dr Andrew Barlow, Divisional Director for Women's and Children's Services

Andrew has been in his current role since 2017, and also works as a consultant respiratory physician (having done so since 2005).

He holds clinical, financial and operational responsibility for the medicine division and has been key in the development and implementation of the ‘medical take’ pilot to improve patient flow. This collaboration with the division of Emergency Medicine has brought forward speciality review of patients admitted as an emergency in a more integrated approach with Emergency Medicine. This has resulted in reduced ED waiting times and a reduction in the inpatient bed base, thus ensuring that the right patients are seen in the right place at the right time by the right team.

Previously he has been the clinical lead for respiratory medicine, the STP chair for lung cancer, clinical director for medicine and clinical director for cancer services.

Follow Andrew on Twitter: @AndyatFrogmore


Mr Simon West, Divisional Director for Surgery, Anaesthetics and Cancer

Photo of Simon West, Divisional Director for Surgery, Anaesthetics and CancerSimon has worked within the NHS for 29 years and, has been a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon for 15 years, joining the trust in 2014. He specialises in surgery for both hips and knees. He was appointed as Divisional Director for Surgery, Anaesthetics and Cancer in April 2020.

As head of division he is responsible for the delivery of a high quality service across all surgical specialties, as well as critical care and cancer services. This includes achieving national targets on both finance and performance and promoting the trust's values on care, quality and commitment.


Anna Wood, Director of Governance

Photo of Anna Wood, Director of GovernanceAnna has worked as a doctor in the NHS for 35 years and for the last 19 of these as Consultant Haematologist at the trust which she continues.

She was clinical Haematology Lead and then appointed as Associate Medical Director of Clinical Audit and Standards in 2014 followed by Deputy Medical Director.

Her recent appointment in January 2020 to Director of Governance sees continuation and expansion of her work in clinical governance, mortality workstreams , Clinical Audit, overseeing the ‘Get it right first time’programme at the trust and the Medical Examiner Service which she set up in 2014.