Meet your chairs


Each of our member networks are chaired by a director or senior leader from a member trust. Find out why each of our chairs think the network is an important learning and development tool for members and why they chose to stand for the role.


Ross Wigham
Ross is deputy director of communications for Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and before this, he was head of communications at NHS Hospitals in Gateshead and Northumberland County Council, one of the largest local authorities in England. In 2012 he was named ‘Public sector communicator of the year’ at the UK Public sector communications awards and ‘Professional communicator of the year’ at the Golden Hedgehogs. Ross is also a multiple Chartered Institute of Public Relations pride award winner and judge, who has worked on some of the biggest public sector campaigns in the North East, and spoken extensively about how local public services can use social media and PR to engage more effectively with local people. He is also an experienced journalist and blogger, having spent a decade in London working for top trade publications as well as producing content for firms such as Sony, HSBC and Business Link.
Being the chair
Why did you want to chair this network? Although I’ve only worked in the NHS for five years I have a real passion for public sector communications and how important they can be in supporting front line services. With my experience from PR, communications and journalism, I hope to bring a well-rounded view to the role having worked across several different sectors. I have a keen interest in getting to the heart of what matters to NHS communicators, an understanding of what the sector needs and a commitment to representing your professionalism through organisations like NHS Providers. I want to make a real difference in promoting the value of good, strategic communications and highlighting the impact our profession can have for patients and driving improvements across the NHS. Why would you recommend members to attend this network? I first came to the network when I was asked to present a session on social media and while there I was struck by the warm welcome, the collegiate atmosphere and the professional development on offer. After this I hardly missed another session over the next four years because it offered such good learning. We’re all busy and time-poor these days so taking a day away from the office is a big commitment (especially when you’re travelling from Newcastle) but the feedback from our network shows just how valuable these focused sessions are. At each one you learn new things, get access to key people in the sector, benchmark your own work against national standards and network with your peers. What do you hope to achieve with the network over your tenure? I want the network to continue supporting colleagues across the country at a time when good communications and engagement in the NHS has never been more important. I think it’s vital that we can showcase the very best communications work being done in the NHS at the highest level. At a time of rising demand for our services and shrinking resources to deliver, the network is a key tool for professional communicators to develop, network and grow. I hope we can continue offering must-see sessions and workshops on the topics that are most relevant to the NHS, providing comms leads with the inspiration and practical tools to do a great job for the individual organisation or system they support. Over the next two years I want to grow our network but also the online community around it so that our ideas can be shared beyond the room and reach right across the country. Term in office: September 2019 – September 2021


Deputy Director of Communications
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
Twitter: @rosswigham

Peter Howie
Peter is a registered general nurse with a background in A&E nursing and acute hospital management before he moved into project management and governance fifteen years ago. Undertaking a master degree in health policy and organisation, and an increasing interest in quality, risk and regulation sparked Peter's interest in the then forming foundation trusts. Peter took on a challenge as a foundation trusts project manager and then became a trust secretary in a mental health trust. In addition to his role as a trust secretary, Peter maintains his clinical nursing skills in the voluntary sector.
Being the chair
Why did you want to chair this network? I saw an opportunity to work with NHS Providers to help contribute to, and shape, both the role of a trust secretary and wider health governance policy. Why would you recommend members to attend this network? Each trust has one secretary, and maybe an assistant or deputy, it can be a lonely place with complex and often challenging situations to manage. The network offers colleagues with expertise and a listening ear, as well as formal development and updating opportunities. What do you hope to achieve with the network over your tenure? The expansion of the training and learning opportunities, particularly for newly appointed trust secretaries. The introduction of a breakfast session focused on learning skills and techniques has been a popular addition. Term in office: July 2018 – July 2020


Trust secretary

Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

Darren McKenna
Darren McKenna is the director of informatics at Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, one of the largest mental health and disability trusts in England, and an NHS England global digital exemplar site.
Being the chair
Why did you want to chair this network? I am passionate about the NHS and the benefits digital can bring for patients. Whilst exciting, the acceleration of digital brings new challenges for providers. There are increasing demands to improve cybersecurity, modernise IT and increase digital representation on boards to increase digital leadership. I wanted to chair the network to bring together digital leaders to have a collective voice at a national level and influence change. Why would you recommend members to attend this network? I believe the NHS providers digital leads network is uniquely placed to support the NHS' ambitious plans for digitisation, influence policy, share learning between providers and support trusts where needed to ensure we leave no-one behind in this digital revolution. What do you hope to achieve with the network over your tenure? I would like to build on the excellent work today and grow the network and make it inclusive for chief information officers and also other key stakeholders including clinicians with an interest and role in delivering digital transformation. I would like to see the network develop and work more closely with other NHS Provider networks and board development initiatives so that digital is seen as an enabler for improving care. Term in office: October 2019 – October 2021


Director of informatics
Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust
Twitter: @DMckennaTweets

Ade Odunlade
Being the chair

Chief operating officer
Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
Twitter: @

Mark Orchard
Mark Orchard is the chief financial officer at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, a role he started in October 2019. Prior to this and from May 2015, Mark was the director of finance at Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, one of four NHS providers working together with Dorset clinical commissioning group towards an integrated care system. Previously Mark held the finance director posts at NHS Bournemouth and Poole and more latterly, at NHS England (Wessex). Mark has also held the commissioning finance director post for Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. Mark was national president of Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) during 2016/17 and a past chair of the HFMA South West branch.
Being the chair
Why did you want to chair this network? I have a keen interest in national level policy and wanted to use this opportunity as chair to represent peers and ensure the network effectively influences NHS Providers' policy work. Why would you recommend members to attend this network? This is an opportunity for finance and commercial leads to participate in wide ranging conversation about issues affecting providers as well as influencing the agenda nationally. What do you hope to achieve with the network over your tenure? I hope to ensure that this network remains effective and distinct in its role and purpose. This network is an important opportunity to engage peer views to influence the national agenda at this pivotal time for NHS finances. Term in office: July 2018 – July 2020

Chief financial officer                                                                             
Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust
Twitter: @OrchardMark

Steve Grange
Steve has a background in specialised clinical and IT ourchasing, reforming emergency care, the development of strategic clinical networks and a wide experience of general acute management in community, primary, secondary and tertiary care. Steve is also a visiting professor of Wagner College New York. Steve has worked with the military (MOD) and veterans agencies for many years, helping to align strategies and services to the UK and USA military to mental health provision. Steve chairs the national NHS MOD network and a number of military/NHS forums. More recently Steve leads a programme supporting the redesign and enhancement of new models of care, primary care and general practice and alliance partnerships within the Staffordshire STP. Steve has always been committed to network style working and has developed numerous prime and sub-contracting, joint venture and social enterprise models that facilitate improved partnership leading to better care.
Being the chair
Why did you want to chair this network? I have always been passionate about the health service and how it operates to improve the care we offer. This network is vital in sharing of strategic and commercial policy and best practice as well as sharing areas where we have all experienced and overcome difficulty to achieve our aims. The speakers that have attended this forum and the interactions from people in the room make this network a pleasure to chair and see how this can shape local thinking. Why would you recommend members to attend this network ? Having a forum where we hear policy as it evolves and the ability to influence, comment and shape this brings a unique opportunity for members to align their thinking, check their strategic assumptions and ensure that their organisation is aware of developments that may impact on them. Being part of a network also strengthens the opportunity to talk to other colleagues about partnership and operational opportunities with other colleagues. This is a big part of a wider network of peer support and gives you the opportunity to form new relationships and test ideas. I have seen a number of things develop from this network at local level which would not have happened without this. What do you hope to achieve with the network over your tenure? I would hope that this network adds real value to the way in which organisational strategy is informed. I would see success if colleagues felt that they were able to shape policy and feedback on areas of concern and the ability to successfully network and learn from each other. Finally I would hope that this becomes a must attend for colleagues as they get so much from the meeting that they wouldn’t miss it for the world.

Executive director of strategy and commercial development
Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
Twitter: @stevegrangempft

Alan Duffell
Alan has a wide experience within the NHS, incorporating organisational development, learning and development, leadership and management development, as well as other HR related roles. He joined the board of Wolverhampton in April 2017 after previously holding the position of director of HR and organisation development at Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, where he had been for 5 years, with board level responsibility for a wide ranging workforce portfolio, as well as health and safety and business continuity. Prior to this, he was the director of workforce and learning within the Black Country Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and at that time was also a director for Skills for Care, representing the NHS. Prior to joining the NHS, Alan was in the Royal Air Force spanning a range of roles including avionics engineer, training and development, and leadership development. He holds membership of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Chartered Management Institute and holds an MSc in human resource development.
Being the chair
Why did you want to chair this network? A number of fellow human resource directors had previously asked if I would put myself forward for the role of chair, for the NHS Providers human resource directors network. I agreed to apply as I considered then, and still do, that from a professional human resources and organisational development perspective, as well as a wider workforce perspective, the NHS is facing challenging times ahead and through chairing the network I hoped to make a valuable contribution to that agenda, which would, in turn, support us all. Following my first two year tenure, I was again asked if I would continue to chair for a further two years and with the supportive nominations from other human resources directors (HRDs), I was successfully reappointed. Why would you recommend members to attend this network? Long before I became the network chair, way back as a first time HRD, I personally benefited from the network, as this gave me the opportunity and space to think through and understand some of the challenging workforce issues, as well as the chance to learn from other more established HRDs and hear about many of the great initiatives that other NHS Trusts had implemented. In the early days it was also an opportunity to learn from others on the path to foundation trust status! Even though I am now in my 11th year as a HRD and little is said about foundation trust pipelines anymore, I still recommend this network to both new and experienced HRDs and I continue to benefit from the network, given our fast changing environment. Let's face it, the job of a HRD does not get any easier in these challenging times and I am always keen to learn from others. What do you hope to achieve with the network over your tenure? Over my tenure, I aim to ensure HRDs are kept well informed about the challenges we face, as well as having the opportunity to learn from others on how we can best meet these workforce needs. I also aim to bring to the fore and provide a forum to discuss openly, many of the national workforce related issues and obstacles that are faced by provider organisations. In doing so I hope to have our network meetings focus on three key areas: • A focus on topical and policy related issues • learn from other NHS trusts and related NHS organisations on the latest updates • Hear from speakers from outside the NHS to help stimulate new thinking around the wider human resources and organisational development agenda. Term in office: January 2019 – January 2021


Director of workforce
The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust
Twitter: @RWTHRD

Sue Smith
Sue has been a chief nurse for over 10 years. She joined University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) in December 2013. Sue received an OBE for services to patient safety and the NHS in the 2019 New Year's honours list. Sue has a long-standing passion for patient safety and the impact of human factors, which she has taken with her throughout her leadership career. She visited Harvard in Boston to study leadership and learned about lean methodology at Virginia Mason in Seattle. Sue was part of the national team that developed the safer nursing care tool and continues to be engaged in national workforce strategy. In the past, Sue was part of the national team to implement Hospital at night, new ways of working in surgery and new ways of working in anaesthesia. In her private time, Sue is a founding director of the charity Transform Healthcare Cambodia and a trustee at St. John's Hospice. In 2015, Sue was named a Nursing Times Inspirational leader. In 2017 she was appointed chair of NHS Providers national nursing directors network.
Being the chair
Why did I want to chair this network? Chairing this network enables me and my colleagues as clinicians (medical and nursing directors) to influence policy development and ensure that policy solutions are sensible and workable. Things are changing so rapidly and being part of this network enables us to ensure that the patient and clinician voice remains the focus throughout. We are also able to consider the quality impact of regulatory, financial and operational changes introduced at local and national level, providing opportunity to reflect and suggest mitigations to drive safe, sustainable care of patients and staff. Why would I recommend members to attend this network? Attending this network enables us to drive the provider agenda nationally, ensuring the clinical voice is heard. Our members influence areas that they would like to focus on and we are able to bring high profile, national leaders to discuss the latest thinking with us. It is also a great opportunity to network with other leaders from across the country enabling us to understand those gnarly issues that we should focus on because they are issues for us all. What do I hope to achieve with the network over my tenure? I hope to provide a voice to all of the member clinicians, to provide a forum for discussion and debate, for influencing national policy makers and ensuring that decisions made are safe, sensible and enable us to deliver care in an NHS that is sustainable into the future. Term in office: May 2019 – May 2021


Deputy chief executive and executive chief nurse
University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust

Angela Hillery
Angela is chief executive at Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (NHFT) which provides mental health and community services in Northamptonshire, and in July 2019 became chief executive at Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust sharing the chief executive role between the two Trusts. Angela has worked within the NHS for 31 years and held a variety of leadership positions during this time, including director of operations. In 2018 Angela was listed 15th in the HSJ Top rated chief executives and in 2015 was a finalist for Chief executive of the year at the HSJ Awards. Angela's ethos is in her commitment to upholding values, listening and learning, developing compassionate cultures for those we work with and for those we care for. Co-production and involvement with patients, service users and carers is a priority at NHFT with many notable projects underway, including the Moving ahead project to deliver equalities in mental health services for BME communities. In 2018 the trust achieved an overall rating of Outstanding from the Care Qualtiy Commission and also won the 2018 HSJ Trust of the year award. Innovative partnerships have been developed within NHFT including, 3Sixty Care Partnership with a local GP federation. Angela has a clinical background as a speech and language therapist. During her career Angela has served on the national management board of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapy and held a partner role with the Health Professional Council. In July 2019 Angela was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Northampton. From August 2017 to July 2019 Angela took on the lead role for the Northamptonshire sustainability and transformation plan in Northamptonshire. Angela is passionate about parity of esteem for mental health services and has family experiences that drive her commitment to continual improvements.
Being the chair
Why did you want to chair this network? Importance of mental health working together to champion mental health in the NHS which is my passion. Why would you recommend members to attend this network? Great opportunity to network and share practice and keep up to date. What do you hope to achieve with the network over your tenure? Add value and support everyone to improve quality and demonstrate the leadership capability within mental health services. Term in office: August 2018


Chief executive
Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
Twitter: @AngelaHillery

John Holden
John is currently director of strategy and integration and deputy chief executive. John was appointed to the position of director of strategy and integration for Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in August 2016, and as deputy chief executive in April 2017. John spent most of his career in senior roles at the Department of Health and social care and then NHS England. He shaped strategy at national level, and was responsible for leading NHS England's policy on a range of issues, including the academic health science networks and the review to decide the national provision of congenital heart services. In previous roles, John was responsible for NHS quality regulation, foundation trust policy, major capital investment programmes, and project management of the comprehensive spending review to secure NHS funds from the Treasury. From 1995 to 1996, John was private secretary to the secretary of state for health. He studied at the Universities of York and California and has an MBA from Manchester Business School. As director of strategy and integration, John led on developing and integrating services, which deliver new models of care in the Bradford district and across the wider west Yorkshire region, ensuring the foundation trust continues to provide high quality care, which meets the needs of the local population.
Being the chair
Why did you want to chair this network? I like connecting the national and the local, the strategic and the practical, it's what I enjoy most. This network is the perfect place to bring those things together. I wanted to meet other strategy directors to hear how they’re grappling with the same sorts of issues in different contexts and different places. Why would you recommend members to attend this network ? It's a wide ranging conversation about current (and future) issues, with some excellent speakers and lots of time built into the day to question, challenge and discuss. I know that taking time out of the office can feel like a luxury when you’re really busy, but most of the feedback we get suggests that this is time well spent. What do you hope to achieve with the network over your tenure? I want to "big-up" strategy. Sometimes the strategy role is hard to define and takes a supporting role alongside the long established disciplines of finance, operations and others. The urgent crowds out the important. I want to help improve the understanding of what it means to do strategy well, so it's seen as a vital component of well-run systems and organisations, alongside those other disciplines. I think the network can play a big part in building the reputation of strategy work in the NHS and, through our discussion, and our influence within NHS Providers, helping to shape the agenda. Term in Office: June 2018 – June 2020

Director of Strategy & Integration and Deputy Chief Executive
Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Twitter: @1johnholden


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