The trust is run by a trust board made up of executive and non-executive directors and led by a non-executive chair.

The trust board meets in public.

Our Board of Directors provides overall leadership and vision to the trust and is ultimately and collectively responsible for all aspects of performance, including clinical and service quality, financial performance and governance.

Meet our trust board of directors

Chairman and chief executive

Mrs Lesley Bessant  

Mrs Lesley Bessant, chairman

Lesley had a long and successful career in local government until her retirement from Gateshead Council in 2005. Since then she has held a number of non-executive roles including pro chancellor on the board of governors for Northumbria University and she is currently chair of Northumbria Probation Service Board.

Qualifications: BA Economics

Principal Skills & Expertise: Strategic leadership, strategic planning, performance management, corporate governance and risk management.

Term of office: 1 April 2017 - 31 March 2020

Date of Initial appointment: 1 April 2014

Mr Colin Martin


Mr Colin Martin, chief executive

Colin has worked in local government and the NHS for over 30 years and was previously the director of finance for Tees and North East Yorkshire NHS Trust. He is a Director of North East Transformation System Ltd, a joint venture between the Trust and Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust.

Qualifications: Qualified accountant, FCCA

Principal Skills & Expertise: Programme and project management, systems development, PFI finance, information analysis, performance management and service development

Appointed: 1 May 2016 (prior to his appointment Mr. Martin was the Trust’s Director of Finance and Information)


Tel. 01325 552077

Executive and corporate directors

Mr Brent Kilmurray  

Mr Brent Kilmurray, deputy chief executive

Brent has been an NHS executive director since 2005, having previously worked at City Hospitals Sunderland, NHS South of Tyne and Wear and South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust.  Prior to that he worked in local government. 

Qualifications: BA (Hons), MA

Principal Skills & Expertise: Operational service leadership, performance management, strategy development, service change, risk management, programme and project management.

Appointed: February 2013


Tel. 01325 552306


David Brown, acting chief operating officer

David joined the NHS in 1979 and has had a career in nursing and general management, working for Health and Social Services, both commissioning and providing care.

Qualifications:     BSc in Social Policy, MSc in Public Sector Management


May 2011:            Appointed as Director of Operations, Tees Locality

December 2017:   Appointed as Acting Chief Operating Officer


Tel:  01325 552306


Dr Ahmad Khouja, medical director

Ahmad is a practicing consultant psychiatrist in Forensic Learning Disabilities. He was appointed Medical Director in March 2018; prior to this he was the Deputy Medical Director and Senior Clinical Director for the Forensic Service. He has a research degree in Molecular Medicine from Oxford University.  He was a former Training Programme Director for Higher Trainees in the Psychiatry of Learning Disability. He is a Certified Leader for the Trust’s Quality Improvement System. He has led on recovery and harm minimisation for the Trust.

Qualifications: MRCPsych, MBChB, BA(Hons) DPhil (Oxon)

Principal Skills & Expertise: Psychiatric practice, clinical leadership, patient safety, clinical effectiveness, programme and project management, service improvement, medical education, research and development

Appointed: March 2018


Tel. 01325 552304

Mr David Levy


Mr David Levy, director of human resources and organisational development

David is a graduate and member of Institute of Personnel and Development. He has worked in the NHS since 1991 at City Hospitals Sunderland Trust, North Tees and Hartlepool Trust, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals Foundation Trust and latterly the North East Strategic Health Authority. David is also an NHS Employers Assembly representative.

Appointed: January 2008


Tel. 01642 516410


Patrick McGahon, director of finance and information

Patrick started his career in local government before moving to the NHS in the 1994. He has been an NHS Board director for over 20 years mainly in provider organisations and was previously the director of finance for the NHS Business Services Authority.

He is a Chairman of Carlisle College, part of the NCG Group.

Qualifications: Qualified accountant, CPFA, BA(Econ) (Hons) and MBA. 

Principal Skills & Expertise: Strategy development including corporate, financial and informatics, financial turnaround, contract management and commercial, systems development, service development, shared services and performance management

Appointed: April 2018

Mrs Sharon Pickering  

Mrs Sharon Pickering, director of planning and performance

Sharon  joined the NHS in 1989 on the then Regional Financial Management Training Scheme. In 1996, moved to the North East and into a planning / commissioning role. Sharon joined one of the predecessor organisations, County Durham and Darlington Priority Services NHS Trust, in 2000 as head of planning and has been with the trust ever since.

Qualifications: Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), MBA in Public Services and the Kings Fund Top Management Programme.

Appointed: 2000


Tel. 0191 333 6506


Mrs Elizabeth Moody, director of nursing and governance

Elizabeth took up post as director of nursing and governance in July 2015. Elizabeth has over 25 years’ experience in the NHS having registered as an RMN in 1991. Prior to joining the Trust she worked as a deputy director of nursing, group nurse director for inpatient services and community services, leading on the community redesign of pathways of care and service improvement. Elizabeth has also worked nationally on programmes related to patient safety, governance and assurance.

Qualifications: RMN, PGDip Professional practice

Principal Skills and Expertise: Psychiatric nursing skills, project management, service improvement, managerial and leadership skills, patient and carer experience, patient safety, quality and assurance

Appointed: August 2015


Tel. 0191 333 6533

Non-executive directors


Mr Marcus Hawthorn, senior independent director, non-executive director and chairman of the resources committee

Marcus is a former Colonel in the British Army with extensive command and operations experience.  His 30 years' service culminated in a number of senior programme and change management roles in the Ministry of Defence and the Home Office.  Since then he was most recently the head of group risk and compliance at Age UK and he is now northern area manager for the Royal British Legion.

Qualifications:  BEng(Hons) Chemical Engineering, MSc Design of Information Systems, Postgraduate Diploma in Law.  Also, past Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute.

Principal Skills & Expertise: Risk, compliance and audit management, program management, operations, resilience and business continuity, systems development, change management, stakeholder engagement and partnership working,  influence and strategic communications, human resource management, public and third sector focus and logistics.
Term of office:  1 September 2016 to 31 August 2019*

Date of Initial appointment: 1 September 2013

Mr David Jennings  

Mr David Jennings, non-executive director and chairman of the audit committee

David is a qualified accountant and worked for the Audit Commission for 26 years, including as acting head of operations. He set up his own business in 2011 and led the creation of a shared service between Redcar and Cleveland and Middlesbrough Councils’ internal audit functions. He also acted as a consultant to a consortium of eight national accountancy firms seeking entry to the post-Audit Commission market. . He is currently the Programme and Project Assurance Manager of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, having been their Financial Services Manager and deputy Section 151 officer until November 2017.

Qualifications: Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA)

Principal Skills & Expertise: Expertise primarily in areas associated with finance, performance, and governance and skills in governance, auditing, business planning, the public sector, local government, performance improvement, shared services, business process improvement, performance management, change management, strategy, accounting, management and leadership.

Term of Office:  1 September 2017 to 31 August 2020*

Date of Initial appointment: 1 September 2014


Dr Hugh Griffiths


Dr Hugh Griffiths, non executive director, chairman of the quality assurance committee and deputy chairman for the trust

Hugh was a consultant psychiatrist from 1988 and for eight years was an NHS trust medical director. In 2000 he also became medical director of the Northern Centre for Mental Health. He was director of policy and knowledge management for the NHS Clinical Governance Support Team in 2003/2004 and from then until 2010 was deputy national clinical director for Mental Health (England) at the Department of Health. Thereafter he was the National Clinical Director for Mental Health (England), leading the development of the Government's mental health strategy 'No Health Without Mental Health'. He retired in March 2013.

Qualifications: MB BS, FRCPsych

Principal Skills & Expertise: Service improvement, policy development, clinical leadership and management

Term of office: 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2021*

Date of Initial appointment: 1 April 2015 (prior to his appointment Hugh served as an Associate Non-Executive Director of the Trust between 1st September 2014 and 31st March 2015).

Mr Richard Simpson  

Mr Richard Simpson, non-executive director and chairman of the mental health legislation committee

Richard runs his own business delivering coaching, training and public relations consultancy. He has previous experience as a non-executive director in the NHS and is the Chair of The Millin Charity, an enterprise charity based in the West End of Newcastle, and a Trustee of Tyneside and Northumberland Mind

Qualifications: BA (Hons) Sociology and Social Anthropology; Advanced Diploma in Leadership and Development Coaching.

Principal Skills & Expertise: Communications, marketing, stakeholder engagement, crisis management, executive coaching, training, organisational development.

Term of office: 1 September 2016 to 31 August 2019*

Date of Initial appointment: 1 September 2013

Mr Paul Murphy 


Mr Paul Murphy, non-executive director

Paul has had a broad range of experiences at a senior level in public and private (not-for-profit) sectors, as well as central and local government, including spells as a ministerial private secretary and an assistant director at City of York Council.  He is now a freelance consultant, with an interest in particular in mental health, wellbeing, and in services for children and young people.

Qualifications: BA (Hons) English & Related Literature

Principal skills and expertise: Strategic planning, operational management, change management, human resources, communications, education, and articulating the service user voice.

Term of office: 1 September 2016 to 31 August 2019

Date of Initial appointment: 1 September 2016

Mrs Shirley Richardson 



Mrs Shirley Richardson, non-executive director

Shirley was the Board Nurse Director at Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust for 17 years prior to her retirement in 2010.

She is a registered nurse and has leadership experience in acute, elderly, mental health, learning disability and paediatrics, across both hospital and community.

Since 2011 she has been chairman of Carers Together Foundation, a charity providing information, advice and support to carers in Middlesbrough, Redcar and East Cleveland.

Principal skills and experience: Transformational leadership, strategic planning, coaching and mentoring, service redesign, performance improvement, quality and safety systems, governance and risk management, research and development.

Qualifications: MBA, RN, Diploma of Chartered Institute of Marketing

Term of office: 1 September 2016 to 31 August 2019

Date of Initial appointment: 1 September 2016


The board is responsible for ensuring accountability to the public for the services it manages.

It also:

  • ensures effective dialogue between the trust and the communities it serves
  • monitors and ensures high quality services
  • is responsible for the trust's financial viability
  • sets general policy direction
  • appoints and appraises the trust's executive management team.

Our board of directors has retained certain decisions to itself including the definition of the trust’s strategic goals and objectives, the approval of the annual plan (following consultation with our council of governors); the acquisition, disposal or change of use of land or buildings with a value in excess of £500,000; and the introduction or discontinuance of any significant activity or operation.

Further details are provided in the 'Scheme of decisions reserved to the board' which is available here as part of the constitution.

Any powers which the board has not reserved to itself or delegated to sub-committees are exercised on behalf of the board by our chief executive.

Under the leadership of our chief executive, the executive management team (which comprises the executive, corporate and service directors) is accountable for the ratification of trust-wide policies for implementation and for ensuring:

  • performance against our objectives and key targets is reviewed
  • the effective operation of our integrated assurance systems and
  • the provision of appropriate and accurate information to our board of directors.

View the register of interests for the board of directors

View the terms and conditions of service.