Colchester Hospital University foundation trust has announced the appointment of four non-executive directors (NEDs).

Sir John Ashworth, Mike Baker, Sally Irvine and Dr Gordon Coutts will join the board from 1 May, the trust said.

Two current NEDs, Dr Penny Cavenagh and Ian Pettitt, will step down before the four take up their positions.

Sir John previously served as the government’s chief scientific adviser from 1976-1981. He was also a professor of biology at the University of Essex and his extensive CV includes spells as vice-chancellor of the University of Salford and chairman of Barts and The London trust.

Mr Baker, who will also become chair of the trust’s Audit Committee, worked for British Petroleum for 37 years before retiring in 2003. A qualified accountant, he was the company’s chief financial officer and IT director in the UK for seven years.

Dr Coutts has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for 20 years, nine of them spent as a managing director.

Mrs Irvine has wide experience of the healthcare and regulatory sectors. She was the first chair of Newcastle City Health Trust and a member of the General Dental Council for nine years. She currently serves on the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence and the Independent Selection and Appointments Board of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors

Each of the new NEDs will be paid £11,000 annually - although Mr Baker will receive an extra £3,000 for his enhanced position.

Trust chairman Sir Peter Dixon said: “I look forward to working with all four of them, and I am confident that they have the right experience and skills to make an enormously positive contribution to the organisation in the years ahead.

“I would also like to put on record the trust’s gratitude to Penny and Ian for the many years of service that they have given.”