HSJ’s third annual list celebrates the NHS leaders whose contributions and vision stand out in challenging times.

HSJ Top Chief Executives 2016




Alastair McLellan: Influencing across the health economy
Discuss the list on Twitter using #hsjchiefs
Sharon Lamb on celebrating leadership in challenging times
In association with Capsticks


The top 16

1. Sir David Dalton

Salford Royal Foundation Trust

David Dalton

David Dalton


Sir David is an NHS leader who needs no introduction – he is consistently on the national stage, influencing far beyond his own trust. Over the last year he has produced a report which could reshape the relations between NHS organisations with the advent of hospital chains, as well as stepping into the breach when the junior doctors’ negotiations with the government on pay and conditions seemed to have reached stalemate. His trust is regularly cited – by the prime minister downwards – as an example of good practice, especially around seven day working, and was rated outstanding by the Care Quality Commission. He is also likely to play a major role in the future of Manchester devolution and his trust is involved in a vanguard for acute care, working with Wrightington Wigan and Leigh Foundation Trust in what has been termed a “foundation chain”. Since the judging took place, Sir David has been caught up in controversy over the planned imposition of the junior doctors’ contract.

2. Dame Julie Moore 

University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust and Heart of England Foundation Trust



Dame Julie Moore, Chief Exec of Birmingham Hospitals, seen here at the EMAP offices, 15th April 2014. commissioned by Judy Skidmore

Birmingham is increasingly a health economy dominated by two women running acute trusts – and they are both among our top 10. Dame Julie has led the mighty University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust for a decade and in 2015 her empire extended as she also took on responsibility for running the troubled Heart of England Foundation Trust on what is an interim basis but with no end date. HEFT remains a separate organisation but will share both Dame Julie and its chair with UHB. Turning round HEFT would be a challenge for anyone but it is typical of Dame Julie that she did not shy away from this chance to tackle some of the long-running problems in Birmingham: something which may indicate the confidence she feels in her top team at UHB, as tackling HEFT will take much of her time and effort. The two trusts combined have a turnover of £1.4bn. A nurse by background, she is not afraid to speak out on issues she feels strongly about: in the midst of the junior doctors’ dispute she made it clear she had no problems staffing shifts with juniors. Her trust has mentored failing organisations and she is viewed as a supportive colleague who runs a tight ship.

3. David Sloman 

Royal Free London Foundation Trust

David Sloman

David Sloman

David Sloman is another chief executive who has stepped up to the plate and taken on a trust with its fair share of problems – Barnet and Chase Farm Hospital Trust turned out to have a substantial backlog of referred patients who had not been treated, including some waiting more than a year. The merger of the Royal Free with Barnet and Chase Farm has created an organisation with a £1bn turnover and all the challenges of working across multiple sites. Mr Sloman has been in post since 2009 and has to deal with the complicated central and north London health landscape, involving multiple CCGs and partner organisations. He is also working closely with other neighbours through UCL Partners Academic Health Science Centre. He is well respected and has been praised for having a vision for the trust.

4. Sir Andrew Morris

Frimley Health Foundation Trust

Andrew Morris

Andrew Morris

Sir Andrew Morris has also led his trust through a merger – this time with failing neighbour Heatherwood and Wexham Park Foundation Trust. The judges were full of admiration for his work in tackling this troubled trust, a challenge which some other chief executives might have ducked or failed. The two trusts have now been merged for 18 months and a recent CQC report praised the “remarkable” turnaround at Heatherwood and Wexham Park which went from inadequate to good. The values of the leadership team were particularly praised. Before the merger, Sir Andrew’s trust was the first to be declared outstanding by the CQC: when the CQC left he gave an emotive speech to hospital staff which left some in tears. A quiet man, he rarely pushes himself forward: the judges felt he “isn’t a self-publicist” but someone who “gets on with the job.”

5. Pauline Philip

Luton and Dunstable University Foundation Trust

Pauline philip

Pauline Philip

Pauline Philip, chief executive, Luton and Dunstable University Foundation Trust

Patient safety has been the defining feature of Pauline Philip’s reign at Luton and Dunstable – and if she is rarely in the headlines, it is because she has been quietly leading the trust and working behind the scenes. That may change now as she is seconded from her trust to NHS England as national urgent and emergency care lead, a high profile role where she will probably find it hard to keep out of the limelight. She has a varied background which includes stints at the World Health Organisation and running London trusts after training as a nurse. She has led on a number of patient safety innovations at Luton and Dunstable – for example, the trust has a medical director with specific responsibility for patient safety.

6. Sir Andrew Cash

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust

Andrew cash

Andrew Cash

Sir Andrew Cash, chief executive, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust

Sir Andrew Cash is an NHS man through and through, he has been a chief executive for more than 20 years and has led the Sheffield hospitals for the last 15 years. This continuity does not mean the organisation has stood still – it is well known for its innovative approach to caring for elderly people, for example – and Sir Andrew’s style of supportive leadership may have a lot to do with its continued progress. Staff feel he has created an environment in which trying different things is permissible. He is seen as having a clear vision for his trust and for the healthcare system in Sheffield. He is a visiting professor in leadership development at two local universities.

7. Sarah-Jane Marsh

Birmingham Children’s Hospital Foundation Trust and Birmingham Women’s Hospital Foundation Trust

Sarah Jane Marsh

Sarah Jane Marsh

Sarah-Jane Marsh, chief executive, Birmingham Children’s Hospital Foundation Trust and Birmingham Women’s Hospital Foundation Trust

Not many chief executives would tweet “go my boobs!” but Sarah-Jane Marsh is not any chief executive. She was on maternity leave for much of the latter half of last year – hence the breastfeeding-related tweets - but has not been far away from some significant changes for the trust. In July – before she started maternity leave – she took over running Birmingham Women’s Hospital as well as the children’s hospital, and in January it was announced that a formal merger was on the cards. A planned £70m rebuild of the women’s hospital was scrapped at the same time but the possibility of a joint new hospital is still open. One of the country’s youngest chief executives when she was appointed, Sarah-Jane turned down a career as a spy to join the NHS graduate training scheme. She has combined the top job with having a young family and is married to former NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson*.

*Sir David was on the judging panel for the top chief executives but took no part in the section involving Ms Marsh.

8. Clare Panniker

Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals Foundation Trust

Clare Panniker

Clare Panniker

Clare Panniker, chief executive, Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals Foundation Trust

In 2012 Clare Panniker took on a trust with one of the worst reputations in the country. Her success in delivering improvements – she increased staffing to deal with safety issues – and her evident passion for the job has meant she not only entered the top 50 this year but she is at number eight. She is a nurse by background and had led North Middlesex Hospital before her move to Basildon. She has led the trust out of special measures – one of the first of the “Keogh trusts” to be judged ready to leave – and it was then rated good by the CQC with maternity care outstanding. It’s still a challenging role and problems remain – the trust was recently said to be financially unsustainable – but one that she seems to relish. She has described it as feeling “like we’re caught in the middle of a perfect storm, with the odds stacked against acute hospitals”: a description that will resonate with many. In Basildon’s case, however, the worst of the storms may appear to be over.

9. Joe Rafferty

Mersey Care Trust

Joe Rafferty

Joe Rafferty

Joe Rafferty, chief executive, Mersey Care Trust

Joe Rafferty appears for a second year in our top 50 and is much admired for running a trust covering several difficult areas. As well as providing community, mental health, learning disability and substance abuse services, his trust includes the high security Ashworth Hospital. It is also taking over the Calderstones Partnership Foundation Trust which ran the much-criticised Calderstones Hospital. The trust won a Changing Culture award last year for an initiative which stressed the role all staff play in patient safety, and for reducing coercive interventions. He cares passionately about the care of the people who come into contact with his trust and once wrote to former Apprentice contestant Katie Hopkins, ticking her off for her portrayal of those with dementia and their care.

10. Paul Mears

Yeovil District Hospital Foundation Trust

Paul Mears

Paul Mears

Paul Mears, chief executive, Yeovil District Hospital Foundation Trust

Making a success of a small District General Hospital is one of the biggest challenges in the NHS at the moment but Paul Mears seems to be succeeding. His trust may be a tiddler but it is thriving. It has been hitting many access targets while moving towards an integrated model of care to meet the specific challenges of south Somerset – the area is a vanguard site and was in the first tranche to get some of the transformation fund. Mr Mears worked in the South Devon area and was responsible for integrating community health and social care services at Torbay Care Trust. Judges commented that he had built a “great management team and is doing some great work”. Mr Mears is involved in the New Cavendish Group, which looks at the specific issues facing smaller trusts.

11. Cally Palmer

The Royal Marsden Foundation Trust

There was widespread admiration among judges for Cally Palmer, one of two specialist trust chief executives in the top 16 and someone who has been in it for the long haul – she has led the trust since 1998. Her influence is now going to be felt across the country as she has been appointed as NHS national cancer director, and will lead the implementation of the cancer taskforce’s five year strategy for improvement. Her organisation – which operates from two sites – has a great reputation across much of London and the south east, and would like to expand. It is working with other trusts to form an accountable clinical network to improve cancer diagnosis and outcomes.

12. Julian Hartley

Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust

Julian Hartley took on a big job at Leeds – despite its reputation for clinical excellence, it was a troubled organisation with both finances and performance causing angst. It had also been involved in a long running battle over the siting of congenital heart surgery for children – something which has yet to be resolved. Mr Hartley came in with experience of running acute hospitals, a primary care trust and NHS Improving Quality and is making a difference. It is one of the trusts working with the Virginia Mason Institute and has also been chosen as a centre for genomic medicine and to pioneer hand transplants. Mr Hartley has been praised for his emphasis on staff engagement and values-based leadership, and as a leader who empowers others in the organisation.

13. Claire Murdoch

Central and North West London Foundation Trust

Claire Murdoch

Claire Murdoch

Claire Murdoch

Claire Murdoch is a leading light in the mental health world but was also praised by judges as being “one of the chief executives whose influence goes beyond the mental health world.” Her trust is a large non-acute provider with a turnover which would dwarf many acutes of £440m. It has also won a number of contracts outside London – for example, providing mental health services at a young offenders’ institution in Kent and community services in Milton Keynes, as well as some national services. Ms Murdoch, who has led the trust since 2007, is not shy of a challenge but is also seen as a system leader – something which should stand her in good stead going forward. She chairs the Cavendish Square Group which represents London mental health providers.

14. Anthony Marsh

West Midlands Ambulance Service Foundation Trust

Our judges dubbed Dr Anthony Marsh “king of the ambulances” and that’s a fair description of the best known and most influential of ambulance chief executives. Mr Marsh has had the tricky job of running both his own successful West Midlands Ambulance Service and the troubled East of England service until the middle of last year – and his planned departure from covering the East of England job led to a staff petition for him to stay. Now he is free to concentrate on WMAS but also to have input into wider debates around the future of such services, at a time when they are rapidly evolving and under severe pressure. He chairs the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives and has been an articulate spokesperson for the entire sector.

15. Sir Michael Deegan

Central Manchester University Hospitals Foundation Trust

“Absolutely the powerhouse in Manchester” who may end up as the chief executive of a larger combined trust were the judges’ verdicts on Sir Michael. He is one of several top chief executives who have been in post for a long period – 15 years in his case. However, it has hardly been a period of calm in Manchester’s health economy with a series of major reconfigurations, the trust taking over Trafford Hospital and now devo Manc. Sir Michael has steered it through these choppy waters to ensure its commanding position. He is widely admired for quiet intelligence and is a good operator who has spent time in the Department of Health and other parts of the public sector.

16. Tracy Taylor

Birmingham Community Healthcare Trust

Tracy Taylor is the third female chief executive from Birmingham to make it into our top 16. She is a well known advocate for the value of community services nationally, as well as running one of the biggest community services in the country which delivers over 100 different services from 400 locations. She started her career as a nurse before moving into management, joining the organisation as managing director in 2007 and then becoming chief executive when it became a freestanding trust in November 2010. She was undoubtedly disappointed when Monitor deferred a decision on foundation trust status in 2015 but has got on with the job of providing quality services in a difficult financial environment. She is feisty and fights her organisation’s corner when needed.

The rest of the chief executives in the top 50 are listed alphabetically

John Adler

University Hospitals of Leicester Trust

John Adler runs a big city trust with challenges around accident and emergency – one of the busiest in the country. He has been a chief executive since 1998 with experience running Sheffield Children’s Hospital Trust and then Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals Trust, before joining Leicester in 2013. He brings wide-ranging experience including service redesign, staff engagement and financial turnaround to the role. He’s doing a good job in a tough environment: after a bid for a major rebuild was turned down nearly a decade ago, the trust is making significant improvements to A&E which may help longer term.  

Tracy Allen

Derbyshire Community Health Services Foundation Trust

Tracy Allen won praise from the judges for her record of delivery, in a very complex organisation which operates in different localities and environments, and for her work supporting other women. “Tracy Allen has always been values driven and not a performance monkey – even when it was fashionable to be one,” they said. She led the organisation through Transforming Community Services – it was formed from the provider side of six PCTs – and then on to foundation trust status. She’s also had experience working in acute trusts and is a former NHS management trainee.

Dr Tracey Batten

Imperial College Healthcare Trust

Dr Tracey Batten has led the inner London behemoth for two years, moving here from Australia’s largest charitable hospital group. By all accounts, she has brought a breath of fresh air and new ideas to a trust which has had its share of problems. The judges commentated that she “does a really good job in difficult circumstances. The trust has had a significant turnaround since she has been there and they are doing a lot of innovative work which is under the radar.” Good joint working has also been a feature of her time at the trust. She’s a doctor who worked in the NHS in the 1990s before moving into hospital management in Australia.

Stuart Bell

Oxford Health Foundation Trust

There are few mental health leaders who are as experienced as Stuart Bell. He led the South London and Maudsley Foundation Trust for 13 years, helped to develop King’s Health Partners, and then moved to Oxfordshire in 2012 where his trust provides both community and mental health services. The judges said he was a very effective leader who is working hard to transform the way services are delivered in his patch and described him as a “values driven chief executive and an impressive individual” and “one of the heavyweights in mental health.” His organisation has done a lot of work around commissioning and stepdown care as well as working closely with the local hospital trust. He is now active in the Oxford Academic Health Science Network where he chairs the informatics oversight group.  

Dr Jackie Bene

Bolton Foundation Trust

Jackie bene

Jackie Bene

Jackie Bene

Dr Jackie Bene took over in 2013 when Bolton was in a financial mess after savings had been “misreported.” The judges were full of praise for her willingness to step up to the top job at such a tough time, saying she has done “a really good job” in a trust which is seen as a difficult one to manage. She is seen as a supportive leader who communicates well with staff. The trust has largely turned round – not by imposing central control but by devolving money and responsibility to divisions – but has had a lot less publicity about this than some other organisations. Dr Bene still does a session a week as a consultant.

Tom Cahill

Hertfordshire Partnership University Foundation Trust

Tom Cahill is a mental health nurse by background who then moved into management. He joined the trust in 2005 as director of nursing and practice governance, before being promoted to deputy chief executive and finally chief executive in September 2009. “He runs a really good trust and has been there a long time. He has lots of ability and has some really innovative services. He has been active on equality and diversity, and a standard bearer for the importance of good mental health services.

Paula Clark

The Dudley Group Foundation Trust

Paula Clark has spent more than a decade as a chief executive – both with a PCT and then in the acute sector, where she spent four years running Burton Hospitals before moving to Dudley. She has also worked at a health authority and in an ambulance service, giving her wide exposure to different parts of the NHS. Dudley is one of a number of trusts in the Black Country Alliance who are aiming to work more closely together. Dudley has had its fair share of problems but Ms Clark has steered it through them.

Sheena Cumiskey

Cheshire and Wirral Partnership Foundation Trust

Sheena Cumiskey

Sheena Cumiskey

Sheena Cumiskey

Sheena Cumiskey runs a very successful organisation while maintaining an outward-looking focus which fits in with the direction of travel for the NHS. This trust has good staff engagement and takes staff training seriously. It has been in the HSJ best places to work list for the last couple of years. The judges said that Ms Cumiskey was “great at mentoring future leaders and has a good track record.” She won HSJ’s chief executive of the year award in 2015 for her inclusive leadership style and whole-system outlook.

Fiona Dalton

University Hospital Southampton Foundation Trust

Fiona Dalton

Fiona Dalton

Fiona Dalton has headed Southampton – one of the south’s biggest tertiary providers – for over two years and has handled some tricky situations well, including the media interest over a five year old cancer patient who was taken abroad by his parents and a long-running debate about where to site vascular services. She has also worked at the then Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals and Great Ormond Street Hospital, where she was deputy chief executive, as well as a previous stint at Southampton as director of strategy and business development. Her trust is known for promoting diversity and actively tries to recruit and retain a diverse workforce.

Jackie Daniel

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust

Jackie Daniel took over the running of Morecambe Bay at an incredibly difficult time in 2012. Since then she has led it through the fallout of the high-profile report into its maternity services and out of special measures. Judges praised her for active involvement with plans for integrated care across the area – it’s a vanguard site. “She has been very brave in facing up to all the challenges and not hiding and has faced incredible pressures that other chief executives have not. She is remarkably resilient,” they said. She started as a nurse in the NHS before moving into managerial roles, including heading Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust. She is also on the programme board of HSJ Women Leaders.

Stephen Eames

North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust and (until 2016) Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust

Stephen Eames likes a challenge: he has moved from one trust in need of reconfiguration and service improvement to a second which possibly has even more problems. He is widely admired for taking on troubled trusts and sticking at it and has won national awards for his turnaround skills. He has also coached other leaders. With more than 20 years as a chief executive under his belt, he is a safe pair of hands who has led trusts through difficult reconfigurations – almost certain to be one of the challenges in Cumbria.  

Fiona Edwards

Surrey and Borders Partnership Foundation Trust

Fiona Edwards

Fiona Edwards

Fiona Edwards heads a trust known for innovation, with a strong focus on research. She argues that wellbeing should be on the local health economy’s agenda to help Surrey move away from being a high user of acute hospital care. She has led the organisation for over a decade after coming into the NHS from the manufacturing sector more than 20 years ago. She’s an HR professional by background, with experience of leading major change projects, and also chairs Cruse Bereavement Care.

Sir Leonard Fenwick

The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals Foundation Trust

In an age when NHS chief executives rival football managers for length of tenure, Sir Leonard Fenwick is the exception. Next year he will celebrate 40 years running hospitals in Newcastle – a feat which has earned him his own page on wikipedia. He joined the NHS at 18 as a management trainee nearly 50 years ago but retirement does not seem to beckon for Sir Leonard, however, whose passion for the job and support for his trust never seem to dim. He grew up in Newcastle, is a freeman of the city and is almost certainly the only one of our top 50 chief executives who is a member of the Showman’s Guild.

Bridget Fletcher

Airedale Foundation Trust

Bridget Fletcher

Bridget Fletcher

Airedale NHS Foundation Trust

“A trailblazer” is how the judges describe Bridget Fletcher. Her time at Airedale – which provides both acute and community services, and is well known for its use of telehealth – has been marked by adopting innovations successfully. “It’s a tough trust in terms of size but they have tried to reinvent themselves,” they added, praising its impact on prison health. Ms Fletcher has been in post for six years and is a former chief nurse. Before joining Airedale in 2005, she worked at the West Middlesex University Trust and Salford Royal Hospitals Trust.  

Andrew Foster

Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Foundation Trust

Andrew Foster has been at WWL for nine years after working at the DH. “He has done some amazing things in WWL where he has driven up staff engagement hugely,” the judges commented. There was praise for the trust’s work on patient safety, really good clinical outcomes and staff support. Mr Foster – who is undoubtedly seen as a safe pair of hands by the centre – was also seconded to run Heart of England Foundation Trust for a time. He is amicable, appreciated by many of his staff and a continual cheerleader for a compassionate, safe and high quality NHS – who can forget the horse he approved to be brought on site to see its dying owner?

Stephen Graves

Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals Foundation Trust

Stephen Graves took on the chief executive role at Peterborough 18 months ago after it had been run by interims for a long period. Judges felt he had made good progress in a relatively short time, including improvements in A&E performance. The trust has recently said it would look at greater collaboration with Hinchingbrooke Hospital, including the possibility of changes to the organisational form: guiding the two trusts through a merger would be a feather in the cap of Mr Graves, who previously ran the West Suffolk Foundation Trust.

Will Hancock

South Central Ambulance Service Foundation Trust

Will Hancock has been an ambulance chief executive for over a decade and has also spoken for the wider ambulance services on issues such as mental health and procurement. He has worked in the NHS since graduation – he’s a qualified accountant and has worked at director of finance level elsewhere in the NHS. The trust is seen as high performing but, like other ambulance services, is keen to move away from just being a “scoop and run” service. Mr Hancock is also on NHS Providers’ board.

Peter Hill

Salisbury Foundation Trust

Peter Hill has led Salisbury for three and a half years – the first two as interim CEO – but has worked at the trust since 1986. He is praised for his staff engagement and working in a complex health economy where the trust has contracts with a number of clinical commissioning groups and provides services to parts of three counties. The trust has been in the HSJ’s list of the top 100 places to work and has also been named as one of the best hospitals in the country. He is a nurse by background and worked in Essex, Newcastle and London before moving to Salisbury.

Dr Bruno Holthof

Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust

Bruno Holtof

Bruno Holtof

Could Dr Holthof be a ‘calming’ influence in Oxford?

A surprise entry as Dr Bruno Holthof has only been at the trust for a few months but there are already signs that he will play an important role in the local healthcare system. “He will become a person whom people will know,” the judges predicted. He has already taken decisive action, for example around commissioning more beds in the community. He is a medical doctor, who then got an MBA at Harvard and a PhD in health economics in Belgium, has led the ZNA hospital group based in Antwerp and is a former McKinsey partner.

Dr Peter Homa

Nottingham University Hospitals Trust

Peter Homa

Peter Homa

Dr Peter Homa has spent more than 25 years as a chief executive of local and national organisations – he led the Commission for Health Improvement and the (then) Healthcare Commission, and St George’s in south London before moving to Nottingham. He currently chairs the Association of United Kingdom University Hospitals and was one of the independent experts who advised Robert Francis around Mid Staffordshire. He is an NHS lifer, starting work as a porter in 1979 and joining the NHS management trainee scheme two years later. He has a degree in economics and masters and a doctorate in business administration.

Matthew Hopkins

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust

If there are heartsink trusts in the NHS, BHR would probably be among them – for years, it seemed a trust which was not making progress. However, this has changed in the last two years since Matthew Hopkins took over. “He is turning it around with a degree of speed,” the judges suggested, adding he is building up a good team. Mr Hopkins spent five years as a Macmillan nurse, and worked for a number of trusts including as chief executive of Epsom and St Helier before coming to BHR. He is active on social media, supportive of staff and provided tea to the junior doctors’ picket line.

Bev Humphrey

Greater Manchester West Mental Health Foundation Trust

Bev Humphrey has run this trust for 10 years but has a varied background including commissioning and working in both acute and community services. Judges agreed: “She is often overlooked. She runs the biggest mental health provider in Manchester and is managing to get mental health into the devolution plans.” She also chairs the North West Mental Health Chief Executives’ group. The trust has performed well in the most recent community mental health survey.

Paul Jenkins

Tavistock and Portman Foundation Trust

Paul Jenkins runs a trust which has an international reputation as well as a national one. “His ability to move around the system and share the learning and expertise is incredible,” said the judges. He previously ran Rethink Mental Illness but has over 20 years’ experience in central government and the NHS. Judges described him as someone who tackles issues head on and a “great bloke.” At Rethink he worked with MIND on the “Time to Change” campaign which sought to end mental health stigma and discrimination.

Maria Kane

Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health Trust

“She is managing one of the toughest catchment areas in the UK,” said the judges of Maria Kane. “She’s a quiet, understated person who has seen the trust through some really tough times.” They added that she is “gutsy and sticks at it.” Ms Kane has led the trust since late 2007, and has a background in the private and voluntary sectors as well as the NHS. She has also been active as a trustee of mental health charities. She let the TV cameras in to confidentially film some of the challenges her staff face which other trusts had reportedly refused to do.

Dr Clive Kay

Bradford Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust

Dr Clive Kay has been in post for over a year after an impressive career as a radiologist, which included three years as an associate professor in the US.  He has a long record of leadership with the trust, having been made medical director in 2006 and deputy chief executive in 2013. The judges felt the trust was a pivotal one in West Yorkshire and added: “He is very solid and they are doing a lot around population health in Bradford as well.”

Sir Robert Naylor

University College London Hospitals Foundation Trust

Sir Robert Naylor is one of the big beasts of the NHS and undoubtedly the reason he is not higher up on our list is that he is due to retire at the end of this year and is unlikely to have the same prominence on the national stage beyond that. However, difficulties in finding someone to fill his shoes have kept him in post longer than planned. He has run the trust since 2000 and has always had a vision for its commanding position among central London organisations, and has seen substantial growth and redevelopment. He has also been a powerful advocate for foundation trusts nationally. He has recently been appointed a national adviser on NHS property and estates

Dr Matthew Patrick

South London and Maudsley Foundation Trust

Matthew Patrick

Matthew Patrick 25 June 2015 roundtable

Matthew Patrick

Dr Matthew Patrick, a psychiatrist by background, took over the trust in 2013 and has impressed many with his calm thoughtfulness. He is recognised as being values-driven with a background of contributing to many national mental health strategies. Making the move to management seems to have come easily – he previously headed the Tavistock and Portman Foundation Trust although his association with SLAM goes back to his training as a specialist. He is seen as a supportive manager, who appreciates the work his staff do and the challenges they face.

Angela Pedder

Royal Devon and Exeter Foundation Trust

Angela Pedder

Angela Pedder

Angela Pedder

Angela Pedder has described her job as being like the conductor of an orchestra: after 20 years of conducting the Royal Devon and Exeter, she shows no signs of handing over her baton. She obviously still gets a buzz from a job which can be stressful as well and is seen as being patient-focused with an emphasis on improving an already highly-regarded trust. She has worked in the NHS since 1975 and was a chief executive in Hertfordshire before moving to Devon.

Suzanne Rankin

Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals Foundation Trust

Suzanne Rankin

Suzanne Rankin chief executive of Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals FT

Suzanne Rankin

Suzanne Rankin has led the trust for a year and a half, after a period as chief nurse. She has picked up a trust at a pivotal point with a planned merger with neighbour the Royal Surrey County Hospital, which now seems likely to include some clinical service changes as well as back office ones. Judges felt the trust has significantly improved, and she has forged good relationships. Ms Rankin spent 22 years in the Royal Navy and then the Ministry of Defence, including time in Iraq and Afghanistan, before leaving to become a senior nurse manager.

Roger Spencer

The Christie Foundation Trust

 Spencer Roger

Roger Spencer

Roger Spencer

Roger Spencer has only been the permanent chief executive for a year but has been doing the role as an interim since late 2013 and has filled other posts at the trust before. He has also worked at other trusts in the Greater Manchester area. He has overseen significant service developments at the Christie and encouraged an outpatient based model of delivery. “He is a really interesting individual,” said the judges. “There will be a very substantial budget for cancer care across the Greater Manchester area, which the Christie will lead on.”

Dr Ros Tolcher

Harrogate and District Foundation Trust

Dr Ros Tolcher is a doctor by background who has experience in both community and mental health services – and trained as a GP – before coming to run acute services in Harrogate, close to where she grew up. Before moving to Harrogate she was chief executive of Solent Trust in Hampshire. “A very impressive leader who has made the leap from clinician to management,” commented the judges. Her experience of developing new models of integrated health and social care may stand her in good stead – it’s a vanguard area – and captures the zeitgeist.

Jane Tomkinson

Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital Foundation Trust

Jane Tomkinson is a former finance director for NHS North of England before she was appointed to her current role in 2014. She has worked in the NHS since 1990, getting operational experience at the Countess of Chester, and has been named finance director of the year. The judges saw her as someone who is up and coming and ripe for headhunting for a bigger role. The trust always scores well for patient experience and has a strong research record.

Owen Williams

Calderdale and Huddersfield Foundation Trust

Owen Williams was chief executive of Calderdale Council before moving to run its main acute health provider in 2012. He previously worked with the DH on strategic health authority assurance and was also joint chair of the national mental health strategy board. He is in the middle of a reconfiguration maelstrom – there are proposals to close Huddersfield’s A&E in favour of an urgent care centre, and centralise emergency and high risk care in Halifax. It is a difficult situation which Mr Williams is handling well. He is the only BME chief executive on our list.

Michael Wilson

Surrey and Sussex Healthcare Trust

Michael Wilson

Michael Wilson

Chief executive, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust

This trust was once a byword for problems: Michael Wilson’s key achievement is that it is no longer in the headlines for the wrong reasons and is now thought of as performing well. Mr Wilson moved to the trust from the deputy’s role at bigger neighbour Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals in 2010. He had previously worked at the DH and the prime minister’s delivery unit. He is now being talked about as a system leader in a county which still has its fair share of troubled organisations.

The judges

  • Dr Tim Ballard vice chair External Affairs, Royal College of GPs
  • David Bennett former chief executive, Monitor
  • Peter Carter former chief executive, Royal College of Nursing
  • Dr Nav Chana chair, National Association of Primary Care
  • Stephen Dalton chief executive, Mental Health Network
  • Mike Farrar healthcare consultant
  • Chris Hopson chief executive, NHS Providers
  • Jeremy Hughes chief executive, Alzheimer’s Society
  • Sharon Lamb partner, Capsticks
  • David Nicholson director, David Nicholson Healthcare Solutions
  • Lynda Thomas chief executive, Macmillan Cancer Support

The judging process 

This year HSJ looked to celebrate 50 provider chief executives who have shown outstanding leadership and commitment to their organisations. As with last year, we considered the financial and care quality performance of the organisations. We looked past the statistics to those whose efforts, skills and focus set them apart.  

Judging for the top 50 chief executives took place in January. Our panel (see names, above) considered the following criteria:  

Impact How great an impact has the individual’s leadership had – within his or her organisation and beyond? How effective has the individual been in driving cultural and performance improvements, and in working within and outside their organisation to develop and deliver plans to reform care models?

Communication To what extent is the individual a strong communicator? Are they recognised as having communicated a shared set of goals for the organisation? Also, are they good communicators with other organisations, players and individuals in their health economy? How good have they been at cultivating the relationships needed with other providers/commissioners/councillors/local population necessary to bring about reforms proposed in the Five Year Forward View?

Patient focus To what extent has the individual created an organisation focused on patients? Are they actively working to create a person-centric NHS?

Engagement Has the individual shown commitment to engaging with their workforce at all levels?

Mentorship To what extent is the individual recognised as a mentor of other leaders or colleagues in the NHS?