• Andrew Williamson CBE
    Chairman, Staff College

    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. Andrew was asked to Chair Coastal West Sussex CCG for a two year period and also conducted a number of enquiries into aspects of childcare services in the UK and Europe.


  • Ajit Abraham
    Principal, Staff College, Consultant HPB & Trauma Surgeon, Barts Health

    Mr Ajit ABRAHAM MBBS, MS, MA (Medical Ethics & Law), FRCS, FRCS (General Surgery) was born in Kumasi, Ghana, schooled in Manchester, and trained as a general surgeon in Pune, India. He returned to the UK in 1993 and trained in hepato-pancreato-biliary (HPB) surgery and liver transplantation in London, mainly at the Royal Free and the Royal London Hospitals.

    He has been Consultant HPB, Trauma & General Surgeon at the Royal London Hospital, Barts Health NHS since 2005. He is also an Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer at Queen Mary University London. He is an active clinical surgeon whose specialist HPB interests include surgical management of benign and malignant disease of the liver, gall bladder and bile duct, and pancreas, complex gallstone disease, and acute and chronic pancreatitis; with expertise in related open, laparoscopic and robotic surgical approaches. He also has over two decades of experience of elective and emergency general surgery including open and minimally invasive approaches to a variety of general surgical conditions such as groin and incisional hernias, and the acute surgical abdomen. He has expertise in the management of chest, abdomen and pelvic trauma as a trauma surgeon at the Royal London, the first dedicated major trauma center (MTC) in the UK.

    He has an MA in Medical Ethics & Law from Keele University, UK, 2004.

    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 from 2011-12.

    At Barts Health, he was the Clinical Director for Surgery 2010-11, Associate Medical Director for Improvement, Innovation, 2013-14, Executive Group Director for the Surgery & Cancer Clinical Academic Group, 2014-2016. Chair of the Boards of Surgery & Cancer 2017-18, and Barts Health Deputy Chief Medical Officer 2016 -18.

    On surgical sabbatical 2018-19, he re-established and led the HPB surgical service at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, Singapore delivering open and minimally invasive hepato-biliary and pancreatic surgical care to the local population.

    He is the Principal of Staff College for Leadership in Healthcare.

    He has published widely in peer- reviewed journals in the fields of HPB & general surgery and contributed to chapters in major medical and surgical textbooks. He is involved in teaching and training at all levels including for the MBBS, the intercollegiate FRCS, and RCS courses.

    He is married to Natalie, and has three children Kasper (13), Anjolie (10) and Bodhi (3).
    Ajit enjoys the piano, cooking, and cryptic crosswords and also plays golf badly. He has a longstanding ‘Hatha Vinyasa’ Yoga and ‘Vipassana’ meditation practice.


  • 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.


  • Dr 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

    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.


  • Brigadier Kevin Beaton OBE
    Director of Studies, Staff College and Medical Director, Mid-Essex Hospitals NHS Trust

    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.


  • Raj Bhamber
    Head of Improving People Practices, NHS England and Improvement

    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.


  • 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 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
    Senior Faculty Lead, Staff College

    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.


  • Professor John Earis
    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.


  • 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 CB CVO
    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 KBE
    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.


  • Caroline Laurie
    Head of Sustainability, Kingfisher Plc

    Having started her Career as a CIMA qualified accountant for Asda Wal Mart, Caroline joined Kingfisher Plc 15 years ago as a buyer before being promoted to category manager. In this role she was instrumental in the decision to remove all gas patio heaters from B&Q. It was then a natural step for Caroline into her current role as Head of Sustainability. Prior to that she was a management accountant for Asda-Wal Mart for 10 years.

    Caroline often attends meetings with senior officials both within the UK & EU Governments, to discuss and inform environmental policy. Caroline often speaks as a sustainability expert at conferences, including at Bloomberg’s offices to an investor conference about the importance of sustainable business practice and at Westminster for environmental lobbyists Green Alliance.

    Caroline has a strong combination of team leadership, financial, commercial and change management skills combined with a strong track record of influencing both internal and external stakeholders. Caroline has significant experience of strategy creation, delivery, change and leadership.

    Caroline has a passion for sailing and in her spare time you’ll often find her cruising and racing on the Solent.


  • 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.


  • Tracey Westley

    Tracey is an independent training facilitator and management consultant who has nearly forty years of experience in the NHS holding a variety of nursing roles in both acute and most recently community NHS Trust settings. Roles include good governance through effective risk management and quality improvement, with overall responsibility for clinical policy, clinical audit implementation and CQC compliance.

    Tracey believes in teamwork and bringing together the strengths of people and networks to provide compassionate leadership resulting in improved patient safety and a positive experience of services.

    She holds a Masters in Public Administration, a Post Graduate Diploma in Risk Management with an enquiring mind believes in continued development and provides mentorship to nurses developing senior roles in the workplace.