Meet the team

Sandie Buchan

I have had a 20-year career to date in the NHS and I am currently the Director of Commissioning Development for the Sheffield Place of NHS South Yorkshire ICB. I started my NHS career as a clinician, working as an Assistant Clinical Psychologist within a high-secure forensic hospital, but my path took a turn towards management as I wanted to make a difference to people’s lives on a wider scale. I have worked in an Acute NHS Trust, a Mental Health and Learning Disability NHS Trust, a Community NHS Trust, a Commissioning NHS organisation and now a large Integrated Care Board.

I suffered SSHL (Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss) in July 2018 and overnight I lost my hearing in my left ear. I was 37 when I became hearing impaired. Being disabled is not something anyone wants or plans for, but it can and does happen to anyone at any point in their lives. I now advocate having disabled people at all levels in organisations, especially leaders, in order to recognise, value and embed the unique perspective that people living with disabilities bring.

Tom Hayhoe

Tom Hayhoe

I chair West London NHS Trust which provides community and mental health services in three London boroughs and operates Broadmoor High Secure Hospital.  I previously chaired West Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust and served as an NED on a health authority.  I worked in retail and strategy consultancy before moving into my NHS Trust chair roles.

I started experiencing tinnitus when I was 35.  It has become worse over time and I no longer hear sibilant and hard consonants.  I have worn hearing aids for the past twelve years and find it very helpful if I can see people’s faces.  During the pandemic, colleagues have generally been willing to drop their masks to talk to me and in on-screen meetings switch on their cameras so that I do not have to rely entirely on closed captions to work out what they are saying.

Paul Keane

I Chair the County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust which is one of the largest integrated acute and community Trusts. Prior to be appointed chair seven years ago, I was Dean of the School of Health and Social Care at Teesside University with than 14000 students. I joined the NHS in 1966 and am a dually-qualified nurse by profession.

I have hereditary nystagmus which means I have poor reading vision. The rapid eye movements make it difficult to focus and hence warrants extra concentration as well as magnification of material.

Paul Keane
Hattie Llewelyn Davies

Hattie Llewelyn-Davies

I chair Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust, which is a medium sized acute trust providing services for our local population in parts of Hertfordshire and West Essex. Before this, I chaired a community trust, a mental health and learning disability trust and combined acute and community trust. My work background is in housing having worked in the third sector and in housing associations.

I have a number of auto immune illnesses, with the primary diagnosis of SLE (Lupus). I have had Lupus for as long as I can remember although like lots of people in my situation nothing was diagnosed until I was about 40. The main symptoms for me are mobility issues and exhaustion.

Gill Ponder

I am a Non-Executive Director at Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust and previously held a similar role at United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust. My executive experience includes operations, finance, IT, HR, governance and management consulting, where I specialised in strategy, resourcing and business turnaround. In those roles, I delivered multi-million pound transformation, customer service, culture change, information technology, supply chain and cost reduction programmes.

I suffer from long term health conditions that prevent me from doing some day to day activities and make standing and mobility painful. At times, my balance can also be affected.

Gill profile
Peter Reading

Peter Reading

I am Chief Executive of Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust and have worked at Board level in the NHS for 33 years, including 22 years as a CEO and 6 years as a management consultant advising Boards.   As a CEO, I’ve led six trusts including major teaching hospitals in London and the Midlands, a mental health trust and three multi-site district general hospital trusts. 

I caught polio at 5 months old.  The polio devastated my leg muscles, and in spite of a dozen major operations as a child, I’ve never been able to walk more than a few yards without either crutches or a calliper.  For the last 25 years, my mobility has deteriorated gradually due to post-polio syndrome, so now I need both calliper and crutches.

Esther Steel

I am the Director of Corporate Services at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and have worked within the NHS in senior governance roles since 2008.  I have always worked within the NHS, starting my career as a Mental Health Nurse before moving into Orthotics and Prosthetics.

At the age of 16 I was involved in a significant accident resulting in multiple fractures and the amputation of my left foot.  I am fortunate in only having minimal mobility issues but do have bad days and like all of us, as I get older the aches and pains associated with these old injuries are more noticeable.

Until recently I did not routinely tell people about my disability but now I’m in a senior role I realise it gives me an opportunity to share my story hopefully in a way that can help others.

Esther Steel
Kate Smyth

Kate Smyth

I am a Non-Executive Director at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust which is a tertiary centre. It covers Royal Preston Hospital and Chorley Hospital. I am the NED lead on Health Inequalities and Determinants of Health, Anchor Institutions and Social Value, Patient Experience and Equality Diversity and Inclusion. Previously, I was a Lay Member at Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group and Deputy Chair at Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing. Before moving into my NHS roles I worked as a chartered town planner, economic development officer and disability advisor in local government and as a consultant.

I used to be very sporty playing badminton for my county. Then, in my 30s, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis which has deteriorated significantly over time so that now, I cannot move from the neck down, use a power wheelchair with head controls, use voice-activated software, need a job aid and have a very handsome golden retriever assistance dog. Since March 2020 all the meetings I have attended have been online which is often incompatible with voice-activated software. In addition, my working pattern has changed significantly.

Faisal Hussain

Faisal has extensive experience in strategic planning, business transformation, commissioning, and community development working in local government. During his near 35 years he has worked across the private, public and not-for-profit sectors holding various roles in senior management, operational director and at Board level.

Since finishing his substantive career in 2016 he has focused his time on non-executive roles. Faisal has been a non-executive director with Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust since October 2017 and the Deputy Chair since June 2021. He is also a Trustee and former Vice Chair of the Spinal Injuries Association.

Faisal was involved in a car accident over 33 years ago in which he sustained serious spinal cord injury and this resulted in him becoming paralysed and a full time wheelchair user.

Faisal is passionate about tackling health inequalities through multi agency collaborations and partnerships.

Faisal Hussain

Page last reviewed: 7 June 2023

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