About us

Trust Board & Local Leadership Team

Trust Board

Clare Panniker

Clare Panniker

Chief Executive and Accountable Officer

Clare Panniker is joint Chief Executive of  Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust and Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

A registered nurse, Clare also has a business degree and has worked in the NHS for more than 25 years.

As Chief Executive and Accountable Officer for the Trust, Clare carries full responsibility for the Trust's performance, forward planning and leadership of the Executive Team and Clinical Directors.


Alan Tobias

Alan Tobias, OBE


Alan joined us in December 2011 from his former position of chairman at West Essex PCT.

He is a qualified solicitor with a strong record of senior management, both in the public and private sector. For 16 years he was the London Boroughs' Chief Executive and latterly chairman of an IT company.

Alan, who lives in Buckhurst Hill, was also Chairman of Essex Probation Service for six years and a board member of Springboard Housing Association as well as a trustee to two charitable trusts. He is a member of the nominations committee.


Dr Celia SkinnerDr Celia Skinner

Chief Medical Officer

Celia Skinner joined the Trust as medical director in February 2012.

Celia obtained her Fellowship from the Royal College of Physicians in 2001 and specialises in genito-urinary medicine, particularly the treatment of HIV/Aids. Celia is also the Trust's director of infection prevention and control (DIPC).



Tom AbellTom Abell

Chief Transformation Officer

Tom Abell joined BTUH in October 2015 as deputy chief executive. He was previously chief officer of NHS Basildon and Brentwood Clinical Commissioning Group. 

Tom has been involved in several major service transformation and improvement programmes during his career. He has a special interest in the role that technology and new ways of working can play in improving health outcomes for patients, while making maximum use of valuable resources.


Diane SarkarDiane Sarkar

Chief Nurse

Diane Sarkar joined the BTUH as director of nursing in 2010.

After training at The Royal Free Hospital in London, Diane has worked in a number of nursing and management roles in acute hospitals in London and Essex.


Mary FoulkesMary Foulkes, OBE, FCIPD

Chief Director of Human Resources

Mary joined Southend University Hospital as Director of Organisational Development and Human Resources in January 2015.

Her career spans the private, public and third sector and includes previous NHS experience as Human Resources Director for East London NHS Foundation Trust.

Mary was awarded an OBE in 2003 for her charitable work and services to diversity.

She is committed to improving staff engagement, which in turn will have a positive impact on the quality of patient care.


James O'SullivanJames O'Sullivan

Chief Finance Officer 

James joined the Trust as Chief Financial Officer in April 2014.

During his early career James qualified as an accountant while working in the oil industry. He has also worked in other sectors, latterly spending 18 years with EDF Energy, and has held a number of finance director roles over the years.

Immediately prior to joining us he was a non-executive director at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust.

James doesn't just see finance as number crunching. For him it's about supporting and empowering people to do things that make a difference.


Martin CallignhamMartin Callingham

Chief Information Officer

Martin initially trained as a nurse at the Royal London Hospital, working in the A&E departments in and around north east London and Harlow.

He made the move into site management and discharge planning service at Whipps Cross Hospital before moving to Newham as Head of Modernisation, and then as Chief Information Officer at Newham. 

Martin joined Mid Essex Hospitals NHS Trust in August 2014 to help deliver, maintain and grow the use of technology and information across the Trust.


Paul KingsmorePaul Kingsmore

Chief Estates and Facilities Officer





Non-executive Directors

Fred Heddell

Fred Heddell, CBE

A former teacher of children with learning disabilities, Fred was formerly Director of Education for the charity Mencap and then Chief Executive, working alongside the comedian and campaigner Brian Rix.

Since then he has acted as treasurer of Inclusion International, travelling to Africa, eastern Europe and central America to help develop inclusive services for people with disability.

The last three years have seen Fred work with the SHA as an independent member of its competition panel. He is a member of the remuneration, quality assurance and charitable funds committees.


David ParkinsDavid Parkins, FCA

David is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and has held a number of senior finance roles in the banking sector. Following a period as finance director with Mortgage Express, part of the Lloyds TSB Group, he was finance director for lending and savings with the Bradford and Bingley group. David has had executive responsibility for audit, and experience of corporate governance, joint ventures and treasury and management control systems. He took over the chairmanship of the hospital's audit committee at the beginning of 2007.

He is married with two grown-up children and lives near Colchester, where he is treasurer and trustee of Headway Essex, a charity that helps people who have suffered brain injury and their families.

As well as chairing the audit committee, David is a member of the quality assurance, remuneration, nomination and charitable funds committees.


Mike GreenMike Green, BSc (Econ), FCA

Mike joined the board in November 2010 replacing Glyn Jones. He also sits on the audit committee, the quality assurance committee and the charitable funds committee.

Mike qualified as a chartered accountant with what is now KPMG and spent 11 years with the audit practice before a 20-year career in the broadcast media industry. He held senior finance roles at TVS Television Limited and Carlton Communications plc and was involved in the Carlton/Granada merger which formed ITV plc. Following the merger, Mike moved to ITV and ultimately held the role of deputy group finance director. He now acts as a business consultant and is also currently the independent member on the audit committee of the Metropolitan Housing Partnership, a charitable housing association with 35,000 homes in London and the Midlands; a director of the Sports Council Trust Company, a sports charity which provides community sporting facilities at the three national sports centres and a member of the Accountancy and Actuarial Discipline Board.

As well as chairing the charitable funds committee, Mike is a member of the audit, remuneration, quality assurance and policy review committees.


Tony Le MasurierTony Le Masurier

Tony joined the Trust board in December 2012.

Tony's background is in senior management in the aviation and travel industry, serving as a Director and CEO of several large international companies over three and a half decades.

More recently, he acted as interim chief officer for Southend Association of Voluntary Services (SAVS) for two years, and was a Non Executive Director of the local Primary Care Trust for eight years, holding the position of Vice Chairman for three of those. He is currently a local magistrate and the chairman of a local care home charity that operates three homes in the borough of Southend. 


Tim Young

Tim Young

Tim joined the Trust board in December 2012.

He has more than six years' experience in the health sector and has been on the board of Essex Probation Service for the past seven years. He is chairman of a housing association and a Colchester Borough councillor.




Gabrielle Rydings

Gabrielle Rydings

Gabrielle joined the Trust board in May 2016.

Gebrielle is a qualified accountant who previously worked at the National Audit Office, the Parliamentary watchdog that audits public spending and evaluates the value for money of government projects and programmes.  Gabrielle was a member of the NAO Board for ten years with specific responsibility for policy, communications and relations with Parliament and Government.

Gabrielle lives in Leigh on Sea and is also a trustee and board member of Southend Association of Voluntary Services (SAVS).

Gail PartridgeGail Partridge

Gail joined the Trust as Non-Executive Director in December 2016.

Gail has clinical and operational management experience within a variety of health economy settings and is a member of the Quality Assurance Committee.




Local Leadership Team

Yvonne Blücher

Yvonne Blücher

Managing Director

Yvonne became Managing Director of Southend University Hospital in December 2016 having joined the trust as Chief Nurse in October 2015 from Barts Health NHS Trust where she was  Deputy Chief Nurse for Quality and Governance. Prior to this she spent 10 years as Director of Nursing and Quality at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, spending 18 months as joint Chief Nurse and Chief of Operations.

Yvonne places high value on the vital role of close collaborative working with colleagues to enhance patients' experience and draws on her experience of change management by leading a team at Southend who share her passion for improvement.  She continues to work closely with the Operational team to ensure that our patients experience the highest quality care at Southend.  Yvonne describes her close working relationship with our Medical Director as 'a professional marriage' for the benefit of both staff and patients, and to ensure that our ethos of 'Care with Compassion' remains at the centre of everything we do.


Neil Rothnie

Neil Rothnie, MS, FRCS

Medical Director and Clinical Safety Officer (CSO)

Neil qualified as a doctor from St. Bartholomew's Hospital in London in 1981. He undertook postgraduate surgical training in and around London, including a stint as a surgical registrar at Southend Hospital in the 1980's. A period in cancer research at Bristol Royal Infirmary and The Royal Free Hospital led to the award of a Master of Surgery degree from the University of London.

He was a senior registrar at St. Bartholomew's Hospital prior to his appointment as a consultant general surgeon at Southend Hospital in 1994.

Neil established the specialist Breast Unit at Southend and developed the 'open access' hernia service. He is the director of screening for South Essex Breast Screening Service and lead clinician for breast services.

He has spent 16 years as the surgical lead to the Regional Quality Assurance team for the NHS Breast Screening Programme and has chaired the National Breast Screening Audit for the last five years.

Neil was appointed as Medical Director in December 2012.


Denise TownsendDenise Townsend

Director of Nursing, Director of Infection Prevention and Control (DIPC) and Caldicott Guardian

Denise qualified as an Adult Registered Nurse in 1993 and joined Southend in 1994 as a Staff Nurse in Accident and Emergency.  Following completion of her paediatric nurse training, Denise continued to work as an Adult and Paediatric Nurse in A&E, later becoming an Emergency Nurse Practitioner before taking on the role of Lead Nurse for Medicine.

After a period as Associate Director for the Emergency Department, Denise took on the role of Lead for Corporate Governance in 2011, becoming Associate Director of Nursing in 2015 and then Director of Nursing at the end of 2016.

Denise works closely with her leadership team colleagues to ensure that quality and safety run through every aspect of the services provided at Southend.


Louisa CowellLouisa Cowell 

Director of Finance

Louisa has come to Southend Hospital from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough health system where she has had roles both at the CCG and Community and Mental Health Trusts in the area.  She is pleased to be working in an acute hospital and believes that many of the savings we can make come from delivering better patient care, particularly through the focus of improving patient flow.





Clive WalshClive Walsh

Director of Operations for Emergency and Unscheduled Care 

Clive joined the Health Service in 1983 and has worked mainly in operational management since then. Since 1997 he has worked as a Chief Operating Officer in a wide variety of NHS acute hospitals, each of which has its own particular personality and challenges and says that's what makes the job so interesting.

There are some common themes that Clive is addressing here at Southend;  the need to work more closely across the boundaries with community and social care and the direct connection between an engaged and motivated staff and the quality of patients' experience.


Clare BurnsClare Burns

Director of Operations for Planned and Scheduled Care 

Clare Burns joined the Trust with over 12 years of experience working for the NHS in community services, acute trusts and NHS England. 

Caring for other people is something which Clare is very passionate about, and she has worked in local care homes, social services and for Coventry City Council, working in residential care for older people. Clare has worked for Princess Alexandra and Mid Essex hospitals as well as South West Essex PCT, commissioning services at Basildon and Thurrock Hospital, and worked with Southend's Managing Director Yvonne Blücher at Princess Alexandra hospital in Harlow.

Clare is local to Southend and the hospital has been a key part of her life. Clare says her role is something she really wants to do and what makes it really special is the fact that it's here at Southend.



Sue BridgeSue Bridge

Head of Human Resources 

Sue has worked in Human Resources for Southend Hospital for over 10 years. Her experience and knowledge of the Trust and the people that work here is invaluable.  Sue joined Southend Hospital as an Employee Relations Advisor and worked her way to HR Business Partner and then Deputy Head of HR Operations and is now Head of Human Resources at the Trust.

Sue believes that a professional and compassionate working environment is important, particularly in challenging times. "During my time here I have realised that our values need to be present and centred in everything we do. We need to support and encourage each other. Successful change needs small steps, and it's a two-way process. I am keen that we are always ready to listen to each other to support and share best practice and we create a safe space to do that."