Non-Executive Recruitment

Our Board

The Trust is managed by a Board of 12 members. The Board meets monthly to consider all aspects of health care organisation, management and the overall strategic direction of the Trust. It holds four meetings per year in public.

The Board is headed up by a Non-Executive Chairman, appointed by the Board of Governors. It includes five Non-Executive Directors and six Executive Directors. The Non-Executive Directors are appointed, again by the Board of Governors, on the basis of their wide experience in the community and the insights they bring from other professional areas.

The Executive Directors are all experienced health professionals.  In addition to the Board of Directors meetings there is a Management Board chaired by the Chief Executive comprising Executive Directors, Divisional Directors, Divisional Medical Directors, Clinical Directors and the Chairman of the Medical Staff Committee. It meets monthly to deal with the bulk of the day to day business, reporting formally to the Board of Directors.


Sir Duncan Nichol CBE

Appointed in November 2012 as Chairman, Sir Duncan leads the Trust Board of Directors and Council of Governors in setting the strategic direction of the Trust, and ensuring  the Trust provides the best possible care to the communities it serves. 

Sir Duncan's links to the Countess are long-standing. He was involved in the Trust's development in the early 80's when he was the responsible Regional Administrator, through to the present day as a 30 year resident of Heswall.

Sir Duncan joined the NHS in 1963 as a Graduate Trainee and worked his way up from Senior Administrative Assistant to Regional General Manager of the Mersey Regional Health Authority and ultimately to Chief Executive of the NHS from 1989-1994. Since retiring from that role, he has served on a variety of public and private sector boards and also has a wealth of international health consultancy experience from assignments in Europe, South America and the Middle East.

Non-Executive Directors

Andrew Higgins

Andrew is a chartered accountant with a background in audit and advisory services.  In 2010 he retired from KPMG, a major accounting and advisory firm, after a career spanning 33 years in the UK and overseas.

Andrew has experience of working with a variety of commercial and not-for-profit organisations, with particular emphasis on the financial services and housing sectors.  He has expertise in all aspects of audit and corporate governance, and has advised on a wide range of corporate transactions.  From 2008 to 2010 Andrew worked in Japan in an international liaison role and advised US and European multi-nationals with interests in the Far East.

Now settled south of Tarporley, Andrew pursues a variety of interests including volunteering with a community based Credit Union.

Rachel Hopwood

Rachel joined the Board in December 2011 and was re-appointed for a 3rd term of office with effect from December 2017 for 3 years. Rachel was appointed as Deputy Chair at the Board of Directors meeting in July 2016.

Rachel is a chartered accountant, qualifying with Ernst & Young, a major accounting and advisory firm. After a career in finance and investment banking in the City of London, latterly as an Executive Director at ABN AMRO, she relocated with her family back to Cheshire in 2008.

Prior to joining the Board, Rachel was a Non- Executive Director of Western Cheshire PCT and Lay Advisor to West Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group. She is also a Director in a company providing risk, management and financial consultancy services in the region.

Brought up locally, Rachel was educated at The Queen's School, Chester. She now lives in Tarporley with her husband and two children, the youngest of whom was born at the Countess of Chester Hospital.

Ros Fallon

Ros Fallon was born in Liverpool and qualified there as a Registered Nurse in 1980. Ros then moved to Manchester to work in cardiothoracic surgery and subsequently qualified as a Registered Midwife. Ros practiced as a clinical midwife for 17 years in Manchester, Cheshire and Warrington before undertaking an MSc in Health Informatics and moving into strategic leadership roles.

Ros has experience of whole system strategic planning, operational delivery and performance improvement. Ros has led transformational change programmes both locally and nationally and has held executive director positions in the NHS in Cumbria and Liverpool. Ros retired from permanent NHS employment in 2013, however, she still undertakes some ad hoc improvement assignments within the NHS. This is Ros' first Non Executive Director position.

Chris Hannah

 Chris joined the Trust on 1st April 2018 as Non-Executive Director and also as Chair of Cheshire West Integrated Care Partnership.  Chris has over three decades of experience in NHS management, holding a number of chief executive positions. She was Chief Executive of Cheshire and Merseyside Strategic Health Authority from 2002 – 2006.

Chris is also chair of Alternative Futures Group, a charity providing supported living and independent treatment/ recovery services to people with learning disabilities and mental health issues. For twelve years, she chaired Skills for Health and Justice, a charity and company limited by guarantee which works with employers across the majority of public services in the U.K. focusing on improving workforce skills and productivity.

Executive Directors

Dr Susan Gilby, Chief Executive

Dr Susan Gilby joined The Countess on 1 August, 2018 as Medical Director before becoming Acting Chief Executive in October 2018 and then the substantive Chief Executive in April 2019.

Dr Gilby, who first had a spell at The Countess during her specialist training, has previously worked as Medical Director at Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Wye Valley NHS Trust and as Associate Medical Director at Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Dr Darren Kilroy, Medical Director

Darren trained in Emergency Medicine in the North West as well as Australia and, following an initial subspecialty interest in medical education, worked in several leadership roles in Greater Manchester alongside his Consultant post.

He holds a Masters in Healthcare Business Administration from Keele Business School and his PhD thesis examined the sociological aspects of medical training in the UK. He sits on NHS Employers’ Medical Workforce Forum and advises NHS Improvement in relation to bank and agency pay in healthcare.

Darren joined The Countess full-time in April 2018 after working between The Countess and East Cheshire NHS Trust, where he was Deputy Medical Director. 

Alison Kelly, Director of Nursing & Quality / Deputy Chief Executive

Alison joined the Countess in March 2013 having previously been the Deputy Chief Nurse at the University Hospital of South Manchester since 2008.

Alison has a wide range of experience as a senior nurse, such as work on practice development in a number of trusts in the North West, including Blackpool and East Cheshire.  She is particularly interested in driving the patient experience agenda and identifying how patient feedback can enhance service development and improvement.

Alison joined the Countess in March 2013 having previously been the Deputy Chief Nurse at the University Hospital of South Manchester since 2008.

Alison has a wide range of experience as a senior nurse, such as work on practice development in a number of trusts in the North West, including Blackpool and East Cheshire.  She is particularly interested in driving the patient experience agenda and identifying how patient feedback can enhance service development and improvement.

Lorraine Burnett, Chief Operating Officer

Lorraine Burnett is the Chief Operating Officer with a joint responsibility with Cheshire West and Chester Council for Adult Social Care.

Lorraine joined the Countess in March 2013 as the Divisional Director for Urgent Care. 

She started her career as a paediatric nurse at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital in 1990 and later spent 8 years as a nurse specialist. She has since held senior management roles in community services before moving to hospital management in 2011.

Lorraine is an advocate of empowering people to participate in their own care in the right place having previously developed home treatment services across the country.

Simon Holden, Chief Finance Officer

Simon joined the Board in January 2016, and is an experienced Senior NHS Leader, having held both Chief Executive & Director of Finance posts, with a number of different NHS organisations. He is financially qualified with a successful track record of delivery and achievement.

Simon is a Fellow Member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (FCCA), and also a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (FRICS) and has held a number of senior roles during his 36 years within the NHS.

Simon has previously been the Chief Executive of NHS Property Services Limited (2012 to 2015), Director of Finance for Bedfordshire CCG (2015 to 2016), and has previously been the Director of Finance for NHS Cheshire, Warrington and Wirral.  He is also Treasurer of the Cheshire Centre for Independent Living (CCIL), a user led charitable organisation empowering disabled people to have independence, and also Chairman of the Pear Tree Primary School Academy Trust in Nantwich, Cheshire.

Alison Lee, Managing Director of the Integrated Care Partnership

Alison was previously the Chief Executive of NHS West Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group. She now leads the Integrated Care Partnership (ICP), which means she is now an employee of The Countess but works across local NHS organisations and Cheshire West and Chester Council. The ICP is hosted by the Countess of Chester Hospital.

Alison started her working life in Marks and Spencer, in financial accounts and then the food division in their London HQ.

After graduating from the University of Kent with a degree in Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management she joined the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme.

She has worked in the NHS for over 25 years now with most time spent working with General Practice in both Merseyside and Cheshire.  

Alison has also worked as part of a national “turnaround” team focusing on improving performance in NHS organisations including the ambulance service.. Her personal ambition is to help everyone feel part of the NHS and for the 360,000 people in Cheshire West to live the best life possible. 

As well as working for the NHS, Alison enjoys a busy family life. She is married to a photographer and is a mother to two children. She volunteers for the Scouts in Birkenhead and enjoys all the challenges that this work-life balance brings.