Meet the board

Our trust board of directors is responsible for setting the strategic direction of the organisation and making sure the organisation is performing as it should be. The board is made up of the chairman, chief executive, executive directors and non-executive directors.

Professor Derek Bell OBE - Joint Chairman

Joint Chairman for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust and South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Derek has 40 years’ experience in the NHS and previously served as President of the Royal College of Physicians. He was awarded an OBE in 2018 for services to unscheduled care and quality improvement.

Julie Gillon - Chief executive

Since joining the trust in 2002, I have held strategic management roles prior to becoming Chief Operating Officer/Deputy Chief Executive where I was responsible for managing a significant and complex portfolio in addition to supporting the Chief Executive and Board to ensure successful delivery of quality, financial and operational performance as well as responsibility for leading agendas including emergency preparedness and cancer service delivery. I successfully delivered the key compliance elements of the Monitor Terms of Authorisation as well as directing the annual clinical services strategic development plans and managed service transformation to support strategic direction.

I was appointed Interim Chief Executive of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust in October 2017 and continue to oversee the strategic direction of the trust, working and engaging with clinicians, other staff throughout the organisation and external partners to further develop a clinical and financial sustainability model, within the context of the wider Sustainability and Transformation Partnership in a  forward looking trust recently rated good by the Care Quality Commission

Levi Buckley - Chief Operating Officer

Levi was appointed as chief operating officer in November 2019, joining us from TEWV FT where he held senior management and director roles for 15 years in a variety of challenging roles which has enabled him to successfully improve services across the north east with a strong focus on partnership working.

He started his working life in health promotion and community development before he joined the NHS in 1998 as a management trainee working at Newcastle Hospitals Trust and Newcastle PCT. Having worked in the health and social care for over 25 years, he has had an immensely satisfying career and is committed to the values of NTHFT and working in partnership to make a difference for our staff and the communities we serve. His primary role on the Board is to ensure the Trust delivers operational targets such as waiting times and ensures that the trust delivers high performing services for patients.

Levi graduated from the University of Newcastle in 1993 with a BA in Town Planning and holds a Masters in Health Economics and Health Policy from the University of Birmingham.

Neil Atkinson - Director of finance

Having studied for my BA Hons in Economics, my natural progression led me into a career within the banking industry.  Having spent a number of years within private industry, I was drawn to the values of the public sector specifically the NHS.  I joined the NHS in 1997 via the NHS National Graduate Scheme and subsequently qualified as an Accountant in 2000.  Earlier in my career, I went on to work within a number of provider and commissioning organisations, which allowed me to appreciate the importance of financial and procurement teams working closely with clinical and operational teams to deliver excellent patient care. My key passion is to support and develop finance teams to deliver high quality finance support.   My previous role as Operational Director of Finance at Leeds Teaching Hospitals and more recently Director of Finance at North Tees provided with me with an appreciation of the scale, complexity and challenges of healthcare in the 21st Century.

I feel it is a huge privilege to work within healthcare, the NHS is a unique team that supports its’ population with healthcare that is free at the point of care, no matter who you are or what your background is.

Deepak Dwarakanath - Medical director

I qualified in 1986 and have worked as a Consultant Gastroenterologist at the trust since 1996. I was appointed to the position of medical director on 15 June 2016, providing both clinical and managerial  leadership for the medical workforce of the trust.

In partnership with the Director of Nursing, I am also responsible for achieving high quality patient care ensuring safe and efficient practices and meeting the needs of patients and their carers.

Part of this role also involves managing the performance of medical staff to ensure they deliver efficient and effective services.

Lindsey Robertson - Chief nurse and Director of patient safety and quality


Alan Sheppard - Chief People Officer

My role is to ensure that the Workforce directorate supports people to deliver high quality, safe patient care. I do this by leading the development of workforce strategies and processes that deliver the trust’s values and goals whilst engaging and valuing staff and patients through communication and feedback; continuous innovation, learning and improvement by using improvement models, developing new ways of education and training and developing an open and transparent culture.

My background as a registered nurse, with more than 30 years’ experience of working in the NHS allows me to understand the issues that the NHS faces.

Barbara Bright - Director Of Corporate Affairs And Chief Of Staff

I joined the NHS in 2004, and was appointed to the role of company secretary in 2014. In 2018, this role was refreshed and I became the Director of Corporate Affairs of Chief of Staff. I hold responsibility for strategic leadership in corporate governance and affairs, strategic vision and corporate strategy, sustainability and communications and marketing.

I have an extensive background in human resources and organisational development within the public sector. My role as an executive director for the Trust focuses on strategic planning, working with the Board of Directors in ensuring the delivery of the best possible health and care outcomes for the Tees Valley.

Professor Graham Evans - Chief information and technology officer

I am the Chief Information and Technology Officer (CITO) for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust. In September 2018, I was appointed to the role of Chief Digital Officer (CDO), for the emerging Integrated Care System (ICS) across the North East and North Cumbria. This role is on a part- time basis alongside my role as CITO at the Trust.

I have held a number of national and regional leadership roles in the NHS relating to health informatics. I commenced my NHS career with North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust in June 2004 as the director of IM&T.

My former NHS roles include: Director of corporate services and corporate chief information officer for NHS England, Chief Information Officer and director of informatics for the North East Strategic Health Authority, director of human resources and information with North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust. More recently, I held a joint CITO role between North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust and South Tees Hospitals NHS Trust from 2017 to 2018.

Prior to joining the NHS, I worked within the private sector in a range of senior commercial, operational and engineering management positions, predominantly in the chemical, electronics and FMCG industries.

I am a Chartered Engineer by profession; holding a professional doctoral degree (DProf) in Technology enabled transformational change. I also hold an Honours degree in Information Technology and a Master’s degree in Organisational Change and Management Development.

I hold Chartered IT Professional Fellowship status with the British Computer Society and have further fellowship and membership grades with several Engineering, Technology and Management Institutions.

Previously, I held the role of chairman of the Teesside and District Branch of the British Computer Society (BCS).

Linda Hunter - Interim director of planning and performance


Rita Taylor - Non executive director

I was appointed in to my role from 1 January 2006 until March 2015. I was then re-appointed by the Council of Governors until 31 March 2022.

In 2021 I was appointed as the Trust’s Wellbeing Guardian and lead on people and workforce issues. I’m passionate about and have a particular focus on the health and wellbeing of staff and how their mental and physical wellbeing can impact upon patient care.

Previously, I took on the role of non-executive direction of County Durham and Tees Valley Strategic Health Authority. Prior to that, I held the position of senior Inspector for Children Services and Youth offending manager at Darlington Borough Council and former teacher at schools, colleges and prison service.

Steve Hall - Vice chair and independent non executive director

I am passionate about the area and the people of Hartlepool and Tees.

I bring a wealth of knowledge and skills to the trust from my very successful business portfolio and management career.

My fellowship of the Royal Society helps bring an external challenge and my role as a Magistrate brings understanding and compassion in the very real social and economic issues facing our community and our patients.

I am always seeking to further the trust values both regionally and Nationally and never compromise putting patients first.

My commitments at the trust include ; Finance Committee, Patient Safety & Quality Transformation Chair,Remuneration Committee, Director of Optimus Health and Chair Of The Trust LLP.

Jonathan Erskine - Independent non executive director

I have worked in health policy research since 2004, when I joined Durham University’s School of Medicine, Pharmacy and Health at Queen’s Campus, Stockton-on-Tees, as a Research Associate.  I then joined the Centre for Public Policy and Health in 2008 as a Research Fellow, specialising in evaluation of transformational change projects in the NHS.  Since the start of 2017 I have worked as an independent researcher, collaborating with academic colleagues based at a number of UK universities.

I also have a role as Executive Director with the European Health Property Network, a knowledge hub which brings together public and private sector organisations with interests in how best to plan, design, build and finance all kinds of healthcare-related buildings, from the largest academic hospitals to the smallest clinics.  From 2006 to 2011 I held the position of non-executive director with Stockton-on-Tees Teaching Primary Care Trust.

Before becoming involved in health research, I had a varied career as a technical author and journalist in the UK and overseas, and as an IT director for a company based in Portugal.

When not at work, I am usually scouting new locations to do some outdoor swimming.

Kevin Robinson - Independent non executive director

As a NED at the trust my skills are maximised around risk management and governance within a performance management framework hence my chairing of Planning Performance and Compliance and Workforce committees. I’m also chair of organ donation and a member of finance and culture committees.

Ann Baxter - Independent non executive director

Philip Craig - Senior independent non executive director

A Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, I have a background of a working lifetime spent in public sector finance including three local authorities, two spells in the NHS and 25 years as Director of Finance with the Durham & Teesside Probation Trust.

As Chair of both the Audit Committee and the Finance Committee, the purpose of my role on the board is to seek assurance, that robust systems of financial and quality control are being exercised within the trust.



Declarations of interest

Download the declarations of interest