Meet the Team

The HI NENC team is made up of an Executive, a Core Team who provide central support, and Programme Managers who lead on our Health Improvement and Patient Safety Programmes.

Find out more about the members of our team below.

Dr Nicola Hutchinson

Chief Executive Officer 

Talk to me about... Strategy, National AHSN Network, Stakeholder Engagement
Email: [email protected]

Nicola is our Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and has been involved in the organisation since 2012. She was part of the original team that successfully secured funding and accreditation for the AHSN NENC. Originally, being appointed as Innovation Director she…

Professor Julia Newton

Medical Director 

Talk to me about... Health Improvement, Patient Safety, Workforce
Email: [email protected]

In 2017 Julia filled the large shoes of Professor Oliver James who previously occupied this position in the AHSN NENC. Julia graduated from Newcastle University Medical School in 1990. Since then she has worked in a range of roles in…

Maria Roche

Chief Operating Officer 

Talk to me about... Talk to me about the AHSN strategy, operations, NHSE/I national programmes
Email: [email protected]

Maria is a clinical pharmacist and prescriber by training and has subsequently held a range of senior executive roles, regionally, nationally and internationally, spanning medical and regulatory affairs, quality management, strategic marketing, operations and general management, across the public and…

Russ Watkins

Commercial Director 

Talk to me about... Innovation, Economic Growth & NENC Ecosystem
Email: [email protected]

Russ Watkins

Russ is our Commercial Director who oversees the Economic Growth activity for the Organisation and is enthusiastic about how the North East North Cumbria is recognised for all the fab things it does. The infrastructure in the region to support…

Dave Belshaw

Digital Transformation Director 

Talk to me about... Digitally Enabling Systems and Pathways, Remote Monitoring and Digital Inclusion
Email: [email protected]

Dave is a psychiatric nurse by trade and spent a large proportion of his career working in mental health community settings and teams. For the last 20 years or so Dave has worked in a variety of service improvement roles…

Stephanie Walton

Director of Finance 

Talk to me about... Finance, Contracts, Payroll
Email: [email protected]

Steph joined the AHSN at an early stage and has been involved in most aspects of its evolution. Steph started her career in the South East of England as an NHS Regional Financial Management Trainee and went on to gain…

Kirstie Taylor

Marketing and Communications Director 

Talk to me about... Communications and engagement strategic planning, commercial communications management, programme communications delivery
Email: [email protected]

Having spent over 30 years working in regional, national and international marketing, communications and engagement roles, Kirstie has enjoyed putting these skills to practice at the AHSN NENC since 2013. Working with the incredible Communication Team members, Kirstie’s time at…

Claire Adams

Programme Manager 

Talk to me about... All things respiratory related
Email: [email protected]

Claire Adams is an experienced nurse with a real passion for improving the care of people with respiratory disease.  Over the 25 years of her nursing career, she has worked in the NHS,  in the private sector and as a…

Anna Bassett

Project Manager 

Talk to me about... Innovation Pathway, Eco System
Email: [email protected]

Anna joined the AHSN NENC in August 2022 after helping to implement the stock ordering service for wards and departments at South Tees NHS Trust. Before this, she completed a BSc in Chemistry at Teesside University, but had always found…

Sarah Black

Marketing and Communications Manager (Events) 

Talk to me about... Events/exhibitions, awards, conferences
Email: [email protected]

Working within the Marketing and Communications team at AHSN NENC Sarah’s focus is on event management. Sarah manages the whole process from the planning stage, right through to running the actual day itself and ensures our events run smoothly and…

Chloe Blewitt

Project Manager 

Talk to me about... MedTech Funding Mandate
Email: [email protected]

Chloe is a Project Manager within the Economic Growth team leading on the MedTech Funding Mandate (MTFM). Prior to working at Health Innovation NENC, she spent 5 years at Newcastle University working as a Project Assistant and Assistant Research Project…

Kathryn Brennan

Marketing and Communications Manager 

Talk to me about... Communications, digital transformation, north east and north cumbria digital stakeholders
Email: [email protected]

Kathryn has worked in a range of national and regional digital transformation programmes providing specialised communications support. Nationally this has included NHSmail, HSCN and NHS Spine transitions. Regionally she worked on the Great North Care Record, Health Call and now…

Liz Brown

Programme Manager 

Talk to me about... Health Improvement Programmes, Workforce Innovation Programmes
Email: [email protected]

Liz joined the AHSN NENC in November 2018 and has led on several Health Improvement Programmes across different areas, including Medicines Optimisation, Adoption and Spread and Patient Safety across the region, to address specific health and service improvement issues.  One…

Andy Brown

Systems Manager 

Talk to me about... Systems and Information Governance
Email: [email protected]

Andy has 30 years’ experience of working with systems and data across the private and public sectors.  He has extensive project management experience for both small and large-scale projects, has been a computer auditor, data analyst, financial planner and information…

Samantha Carter

HR Assistant 

Talk to me about... General HR queries, Recruitment and Training.
Email: [email protected]

Sam is the HR Assistant for the AHSN NENC and supports the organisation with day-to-day queries relating to HR processes, systems and cyclical activities, including recruitment and training.  Sam joined the organisation in August 2021.