• Brigadier Johnny Wardle
    Chairman, Staff College

    Johnny Wardle was commissioned into the Coldstream Guards in in 1964 and completed 32 years military service in December 1995 in the rank of Brigadier. Since that time he has undertaken a number of senior roles within the NHS. He served as Chairman of Northallerton Health Services NHS Trust for 6 years. In 2002 he formed Craven, Harrogate and Rural District PCT serving as Chairman and again in 2006 when The City of York and the North Yorkshire PCTs were formed into NHS North Yorkshire and York, retiring in March 2010.

    In the autumn of 2009 the late Professor Aidan Halligan visited Camp Bastion in Afghanistan, which at it height was the busied trauma center in the world. Aidan saw NHS Reservists working to an entirely different leadership culture and ethos. Immediately on his return he asked Johnny to help him set about forming the Staff College to take the lessons learned to the NHS as a whole. Since Aidan’s untimely death in March 2005 Johnny and colleagues have worked to develop the model that is today the charity ‘The Staff College: Leadership in Healthcare’.

    Johnny has also served in a number of voluntary roles, as a Deputy Lieutenant of North Yorkshire from 2004 and as Vice Lieutenant.

    He was appointed OBE in 1985 and awarded a Queen’s Commendation for Brave Conduct in 1966. Married to Jane, they live in North Yorkshire.

  • Ajit Abraham MBBS MS MA (Medical Ethics & Law) FRCS FRCS (General Surgery)
    Principal, Staff College, Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Consultant HPB & Trauma Surgeon, Barts Health

    Mr Ajit Abraham has been a Consultant HPB & Trauma Surgeon at Barts Health since 2005, and is an Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer at Queen Mary University London. He is an active clinician whose specialist interests include benign and malignant disease of the liver, bile duct and pancreas, trauma, and emergency surgery. He also has a background in Medical Ethics & Law.

    He was recently appointed Barts Health Deputy Chief Medical Officer with responsibility for quality improvement and patient safety across the Barts Health system, and retains his Group Director role, balancing a busy clinical workload with leadership responsibility for the Surgery & Cancer CAG – helping to shape the future surgical and cancer strategy and related service reconfigurations and standards for Barts Health and East London.

    His other areas of interest are clinical leadership, quality improvement and patient safety and he was Health Foundation QI Fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and Harvard 2011-12.

    He lives in Wimbledon, with his wife Natalie, and three children Kasper (2007), Anjolie (2010) and Bodhi (2016).

    Ajit enjoys playing the piano, cooking, and cryptic crosswords and plays golf badly! He has a particular interest and a longstanding personal practice of ‘Vinyasa’ yoga and ‘Vipassana’ meditation.

  • Susan Acott
    Chief Executive, East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust

    Susan started her career on the NHS’s postgraduate General Management Training Scheme and is now Chief Executive of East Kent Hospitals NHS University Foundation Trust. She has held Board level posts in acute hospital settings across the country including Operational, Strategic, Performance and Transformation portfolios. Susan is passionate about the role of clinical leadership in delivering and sustaining high quality, safe services for patients. She has had considerable experience of service improvement, service reorganization, mergers as well as delivering operational and strategic portfolios. Her experience has included the delivery of large scale Digital programmes and she has a strong vision of how IT, well planned and implemented, can support clinical innovation. Susan is a member of the NHS Employers Policy Board and on the Advisory Council of The Staff College for Leadership in Healthcare.

  • Neil Ashman
    Deputy Principal Staff College, Consultant Renal Physician, Barts Health NHS Trust, and Deputy Managing Director at the Royal London Hospital

    I am the deputy Hospital Chief Executive Officer at the Royal London Hospital, and Chair of the Board of Medicine, at Barts Health NHS Trust. I am a practicing kidney physician, with an interest in system- and team-working to improve quality, governance and value.
    I have delivered innovation in a financially stressed metropolitan environment, for an ethnically diverse, socio-economically deprived population with significant health needs. This has emphasised the importance of fostering a culture of values-driven leadership to me, and the need to collaborate across traditional boundaries to get the best for those we serve.

  • Alex Bax
    CEO, Pathway and Former COO, Staff College

    Alex has worked to improve health and social care in London for many years. He is founding Chief Executive of Pathway – the homeless health charity created by Prof Aidan Halligan. He is also visiting fellow at the Institute of Health and Human Development at the University of East London and Chair of inequality campaign group My Fair London. He has been a senior policy advisor to two Mayor’s of London: on health, city planning and social policy. He has a Masters in London Studies, is a member of Faculty for Public Health, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and founder member of the Faculty for Homeless and Inclusion Health.

  • Raj Bhamber
    Interim Director of Strategy, People & Organisational Development, Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust

    Raj joined Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust in September 2018 from The Princess Alexandra NHS Trust where she was the Interim Director of People, Communications and OD.
    Prior to her recent interim roles, Raj was a Director in the people and organisation practice and a member of the Public Health Sector Board at PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) LLP for over three years. She has acquired extensive experience of working in the private and public sectors in the UK and abroad, including over 20 years of board level experience through a variety of Executive Director positions in health authorities and Foundation Trusts in London and the Home Counties.

  • Brigadier Kevin Beaton OBE QHP
    Director of Studies, Staff College and Brigadier, MOD

    Kevin is a member of the Board with responsibilities for the evolving design of the Staff College: Leadership in Healthcare and its operational theoretical underpinning. After a degree in history and politics he went to Sandhurst and then later left the military to study medicine. He is a GP who has served in the Balkans, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and Iraq. He has been a doctor for military families and battle groups as well as having medical leadership role including a Medical Squadron, Medical Regiment, Field hospital and a Medical Brigade. He was the Military Medical lead for the UK Ebola response to West Africa. He has now left the Army and is currently the Medical Director in Mid Essex Hospital Trust.

  • Brigadier Greville Bibby CBE
    Clerk to the Worshipful Company of Grocers

    Greville brings over 30 years military experience to the NHS Staff College. He has held leadership roles throughout his career which has seen him serve on military operations in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2009 he spent 9 months as Deputy Commander of the UK Task Force in Helmand for which he was awarded the CBE.

    He is a graduate of the Army Staff College and spent two years as an instructor at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. He has held a variety of appointments including a total of five years in the Army’s career management department and three years as principal staff officer to the Head of Army Personnel.

  • Charlie Brown
    CEO, Staff College

    Charlie has led the charity through its formative two years as Chief Operating Officer before taking up the role of Chief Executive in 2018. She works closely with the Charity’s Trustees and Faculty to ensure the Charity continues to deliver programmes of the highest quality for the healthcare leaders it serves. 

    Charlie brings many years of NHS experience in clinical services, education and has supported the NHS Staff College since its inception. She is a passionate advocate of the importance of leadership and Staff College’s unique approach.

    Charlie started her career as an apprentice luthier (guitar repairer), gradually working her way up to running the largest independent guitar repairs workshop in Europe and working for musicians and bands from all over the world.

  • Air Commodore Maria Byford QHDS MA BDS MFGDP(UK) RAF
    Head RAF Medical Services

    Air Commodore Maria Byford joined the Royal Air Force in 1991, following graduation from Kings College London with a Bachelor in Dental Surgery. Over the next 17 years, she delivered military dentistry in primary care dental centres and military hospitals in the mainland UK, overseas in Northern Ireland and Cyprus, and whilst on deployment in the Middle East.

    In more recent years, Air Commodore Byford has been serving in Command & Staff roles within the Defence Medical Services, initially as SO1 Manning & Commitments in the Directorate of Medical Operational Capability. After a year on Advanced Command and Staff Course she took up appointment as Military Assistant to the last Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff (Health) until his retirement, followed by a post in the Inspector General’s team at HQ Surgeon General. On promotion to Group Captain in 2011, she became the Head of Personnel Division within HQ Surgeon General, and was Project Director of DMS 20; a critical change programme that defined the future medical operational capability needs of the Defence Medical Services. In 2014 she deployed as the final Commander Medical Joint Force Support (Afghanistan) on Op HERRICK, and was responsible for the closure of the Bastion Role 3 Trauma Field Hospital and the safe recovery of the UK Medical Group from Afghanistan.

    On return from deployed operations, Air Commodore Byford took up the post of Commander Medical (RAF) in January 2015, providing medical operational capability in support of air operations in peace and crisis. Her appointment was short lived as she was selected for promotion a few weeks later, and was appointed Head Future Healthcare within HQ Surgeon General with effect from March 2015. In her current role, she is responsible for innovative concept development, high level planning and strategic commissioning for Defence healthcare, and she leads on collaboration with the UK National Health Executive. Air Commodore Byford is passionate about fair and transparent treatment of the Whole Force; she is very proud to be Honorary President for Staffordshire Wing RAF Air Cadets, and was delighted to be assigned as Deputy Gender Advocate for the Royal Air Force in January 2018.

    Air Commodore Byford was appointed Queen’s Honorary Dental Surgeon in December 2016. She is married to Alistair, a recently retired Air Commodore, and they have 2 university age children, Will and Charlotte. Together they enjoy skiing, sailing and spending time at their holiday home on the Suffolk coast.

  • Dr Gordon Coutts
    CEO, Coutts Consulting

    Dr. Gordon Coutts has a medical degree from London University and a business education from Harvard Business School. He has senior leadership experience across three continents, in large businesses in the private, public and private equity sectors. He has held P&L responsibility for £350m+ organisations and leadership experience of headcounts exceeding 4000. He has held Chief Executive roles for over 12 years including as CEO of an NHS Foundation Trust. High levels of employee engagement resulted in citations in the Top 50 Best Places to Work on four occasions.

    He has worked as an advisory board member and non-executive for a variety of organisations as well as co-chaired international business associations for the past 15 years.

  • Geoff Donnelly
    Chair of the Board, University of Cumbria

    Geoff has held a portfolio of non-executive appointments within the Health and Higher Education sectors. In the Health sector these have included Health Authority, Strategic Health Authority and Primary Care Trusts; his final appointment was as Vice-chair and Audit Chair of North Yorkshire and York, one of the largest geographical PCTs in England with a budget in excess of £1bn. He is currently a non-executive director of Diagnostic Healthcare Limited, a private healthcare company based in Manchester.

    He was a board member of Oxford Brookes University for 13 years culminating in being the Chair of the board for four years until his retirement in July 2016. He continues to be a board member of the University of Cumbria and is now the Chair of the board. He has also been a board member of the Higher Education Academy and the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education.

    Prior to these appointments Geoff worked in the private sector in a range of roles from personnel management, consultancy and finance with organisations such as BOC Ltd, Marks and Spencer and Legrand. His final appointment was as Finance Director and Company Secretary of Legrand UK Ltd, the UK subsidiary of Legrand SA a worldwide leader in the manufacture of electrical wiring accessories.

  • Professor John Earis MD FRCP FRCP(I)
    Deputy Chairman, Staff College and Director of Clinical Quality, University of Liverpool

    Professor Earis trained at the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine in London and has spent most of his working life in the North West. In 1982 he was appointed as a Chest and General Physician at University Hospital Aintree in Liverpool and led the development of Aintree Chest Centre, which is now widely recognised for its clinical innovation and research. As well as his clinical practice and research interests John has been closely involved with undergraduate and postgraduate education. In the 1990s he set up the respiratory medicine training programme in Mersey Deanery and in 2007 he was appointed as Director of Medical Education and Undergraduate Sub-Dean at Aintree. When he retired from Aintree in 2015 he became the Director of Quality for the School of Medicine in Liverpool introducing new quality assurance and evaluation systems to the undergraduate course. He has recently retired from this position but continues to work for the Undergraduate School.

    He was made an Honorary Professor at Liverpool University in 2007 and in 2019 was awarded the title of Emeritus Professor. In 2016 he was delighted to be appointed Honorary Colonel of 208 Reserve Field Hospital (Army Medical Service). In 2013, working with Professor Aidan Halligan, John facilitated Staff College activities in the North West. Following Aidan’s untimely death John became Acting Principal of Staff College and continues his close association with Staff College as a Trustee and Deputy Chair of the Board of Trustees.

  • Professor Steve Field CBE FRCP FFPH FRC GP
    Chief Inspector of General Practice, Care Quality Commission and General Practioner, Bellevue Medical Centre, Birmingham

    Since April 2019 Steve has been the Chairman of The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust.

    From 2013 – 2019 Steve was Chief Inspector of General Practice at the Care Quality Commission. He led the inspection and regulation of primary care services in England across the public, private and independent sectors. This included general practice, dentistry, online consulting doctors, urgent care and prison healthcare. He also led CQC’s work on Integrated Care including their Local System Reviews.

    Previously, he was NHS England’s Deputy National Medical Director, with the lead responsibility for addressing Health Inequalities in line with the NHS Constitution. In 2011 Steve Chaired the independent NHS Future Forum for the Prime Minister. From 2011 – 2015 Steve was Chairman of the National Inclusion Health Board which focused on improving the health outcomes of vulnerable groups including the homeless.

    He qualified as a GP in 1986 and was a GP in Worcestershire and Birmingham until 2017.

    Steve was Chairman of Council of the Royal College of General Practitioners 2007 – 2010. For 16 years he was a Member of Faculty at the Harvard Macy Institute, Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts. He is a Trustee at Nishkam Healthcare Trust and a non-executive director of University College London Partners (UCLP Academic Health Science Partnership). He holds Honorary Professorships at the Universities of Birmingham and Warwick.

    He received a CBE for his Services to Medicine in the Queen’s 2010 New Year’s Honours List.

  • Major General Julian R Free CBE
    Deputy Vice Chancellor (People Services and Operations), Lincoln University

    Despite being born in Plymouth into a Royal Navy family, Julian Free joined the Army and was commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 1986. He holds a B.Ed (Hons) (Exeter University) and a Masters in Defence Studies (Cranfield University). He has completed the Windsor Leadership Strategic Leadership Programme (2015-16) and the Leadership Centre’s Future Vision Programme (2016-17). He was appointed MBE in 2001, OBE in 2009 and CBE in 2012.

    Julian Free deployed on operations to Kuwait, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Iraq, Cyprus and Afghanistan in UK, UN and NATO appointments and trained and served in the UK, Germany, America, Canada, Belize and Kenya. He commanded G Parachute Battery (Mercer’s Troop) Royal Horse Artillery on operations in Kosovo and Sierra Leone, 26th Regiment Royal Artillery on operations in Iraq and Cyprus and 4th Mechanised Brigade on operations in Iraq, which included Op CHARGE OF THE KNIGHTS. As a major general he served as Chief of Staff of the NATO Allied Rapid Reaction Corps and Commandant Joint Services Command & Staff College.

    In April 2017 Julian joined the University of Lincoln as Deputy Vice Chancellor – and started to learn all over again.

  • Vice Admiral Mike Gretton
    Associate, 2020 Delivery

    Mike Gretton joined the Royal Navy in 1963 and then studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Trinity College, Oxford before continuing his seagoing career, serving for over 34 years until retirement in 1998. He enjoyed five commands at sea including HMS Invincible, the Standing Naval Force Atlantic and the UK Task Group. He has attended the Royal College of Defence Studies and the Cabinet Office Top Management Programme. After retirement he went into youth development as Chief Executive of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. He maintained that interest as a Trustee of the Tall Ships Youth Trust, and as Chairman of Youth Options (Hampshire). Mike was Chairman of Winchester and Eastleigh NHS Trust from September 2007 to January 2012, when his primary interests were patient experience and clinical leadership. He is an Associate with 2020 Delivery, involved in providing leadership training in the public sector, and particularly the NHS. He lives near Winchester with his wife: they have 4 grown up children (2 are doctors) and nine grandchildren. He was a keen cricket, rugby and racquets game player, but now he just staggers around a Real Tennis court.

  • Neil Griffiths
    Managing Director, TeleTracking

    Neil Griffiths was appointed (Interim) Chief Executive Officer, UCLH, in September 2016 following over two years as Deputy Chief Executive, UCLH.  Neil has over twenty years hospital management and leadership experience having joined the NHS from Bristol University in 1992.  He has held operational, commercial and strategic roles in a number of different hospitals, including Lewisham, St Mary’s (now part of Imperial), East Kent, the Royal National Orthopaedic and UCLH between 2003-2008, during which time he was Director of the Heart Hospital, the newly opened UCH and Strategic Development.

    In addition to his NHS hospital experience Neil has spent the last six years working in the private healthcare sector and most recently as a member of the healthcare management consultancy team at McKinsey & Company.  Neil helped develop the McKinsey Hospital Institute (MHI) in the UK which was created to support NHS hospitals identify improvement opportunities and with the delivery of change and productivity programmes.  As well as a number of functional leadership responsibilities, an important component of the role of Deputy CEO is the development and implementation of a trust wide transformation programme.

  • Prof Sir Bruce Keogh
    Chair, Birmingham Women's and Children's NHS Foundation Trust

    Bruce Keogh has had a distinguished international career as a cardiac surgeon, having first been a consultant at the Hammersmith Hospital in London, then University Hospital Birmingham before becoming Professor of Cardiac Surgery at UCL and Director of Surgery at the Heart Hospital. He has been president of the Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery in Great Britain and Ireland, Secretary General of The European Association for Cardio Thoracic Surgery and a Director of the US Society of Thoracic Surgeons. With a longstanding interest in the measurement of clinical outcomes he has served on the boards of the Commission for Health Improvement and Healthcare Commission. Sir Bruce was first appointed as Medical Director of the NHS in 2007 and subsequently became the National Medical Director of NHS England upon its creation in 2013. As such, he has overseen the implementation of wide-reaching reforms to the health service following the Health and Social Care Act 2012, and had a leading role in the development and the delivery of the Five Year Forward View. During this time, he was also responsible for promoting quality, clinical leadership and innovation across the health service. He has recently become Chair of the Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust. He was knighted for services to medicine in 2003 and in 2014 was named by the Sunday Times as one of Britain’s 500 most influential people.

  • Air Vice-Marshal Chris Luck MBE MA RAF
    Commandant, Joint Services Command and Staff College

    Chris Luck has deployed on operations to Northern Ireland, Belize, Iraq and Bosnia.  He has over 5000 hrs of military flying.  He has a Masters degree in Military Operational Art and Strategic Air Power and is a Qualified Helicopter Instructor.  He has been an Advisor and helicopter instructor at Ali Al Salem Air Base, flying Pumas and Gazelles and a member of directing staff at the United States Air Force’s Air Command Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base where he was promoted to the role of Deputy Director of Strategy and War.

    Luck took command of 33 Squadron at RAF Benson in 2007.  This tour was set against the backdrop of OP TELIC and was completed in June 2009.  Promoted to Group Captain in June 2009, he was posted to the Permanent Joint Headquarters as Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff in the J5 Plans branch, with specific responsibility for the Broader Middle East region and global Counter Terrorism.  This was followed by a tour as Station Commander RAF Shawbury from 2011 to 2013, time as a Strategy student at the Royal College of Defence Studies from September 2013 to November 2013 before taking up the post of Commandant of the RAF College and Director Recruiting and Initial Training from December 2013 to August 2016.  Promoted to Air Vice-Marshal in January 2017, Luck is currently serving as Commandant of the Joint Services Command and Staff College at the Defence Academy. 

    He was awarded an MBE for his contribution to operations in Northern Ireland.  He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, the Chartered Management Institute and the Royal Aeronautical Society.  He is married to Sara with three children.  He is a keen horseman, skier, motorbiker, and student of strategic theory and practice.  

  • Michael Pantlin
    Executive Director of Workforce Development, Barts Health

    Mr Michael Pantlin, Group Director of People, joined Barts Health NHS Trust in 2012. Previously he was at Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, the Royal Bank of Scotland in Commercial and Retail Banking sectors across England and Wales. Prior to this, Michael headed HR for the specialist brands of the Thomson Travel Group.

    Originally, during his professional training, Michael spent some time working at the Mildmay Hospital, which specialises in palliative care for HIV/AIDs. He moved to the private sector knowing one day he wanted to return to a similar organisation.

  • Melanie Toyne-Sewell
    Partner, Life Sciences

    Melanie leads on financial communications within the life sciences team. She has 20 years of experience advising life sciences companies on financial communications. Prior to joining Instinctif Partners, she built and established the life sciences practice at the Hogarth Partnership. She was a partner in the Financial Dynamics (now FTI) Life Sciences team and a Director at Merlin Financial PR. She has extensive experience of capital market transactions and corporate issues. Before entering business communications, she was at Price Waterhouse where she qualified as a chartered accountant.

    She has a BA in Biochemistry from Oxford University.

  • Andrew Williamson
    Chair, Coastal West Sussex CCG

    Andrew Williamson was the Chair of NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly PCT until it was disbanded in 2013.

    Mr Williamson has spent over thirty years working within social services. He was Director of Social Services for Devon County Council in 1990 and honorary secretary of the Association of Directors of Social Services from 1996 – 1999. In June 1999 Andrew was awarded a CBE in recognition of his services to social work in the UK. In 2000 he was appointed as Chair of North and East Devon Health Authority and in 2002 he joined South West Peninsula Strategic Health Authority as a non-executive director. For the last 2 years Andrew was asked to Chair Coastal West Sussex CCG