Board of Directors

Our Board of Directors comprises full-time executive and part-time non-executive members.

Executive directors are employees of the NHS Foundation Trust, led by the chief executive. They are responsible for the day-to-day management of the Trust.

Non-executive directors are not employees, but officers. They bring to the Board an independent perspective. It is their role to challenge decisions and proposals made by the executive directors. They also hold executive directors to account.

The role of the Board of Directors, led by the Chair, is to provide effective and proactive leadership of the Trust; to set the strategic aims of the Trust, ensuring the quality, safety and effectiveness of the services provided as well as ensuring that the Trust is well-governed in every aspect of its activities.

The description of each of the current directors’ areas of expertise and experience demonstrates the balance, completeness and relevance of the skills and knowledge that the directors bring to the Trust.

Executive Directors

Alison Davis

Alison joined the Trust in February 2021 as Chair of both the Board of Directors and the Council of Governors.

Alison started her career as a State Registered Nurse, working in the acute sector eventually specialising in renal dialysis and transplant. Later, while studying law she spent several years as an agency nurse working in acute, community and nursing home settings.

Alison has been a Non-Executive Director in various NHS and Foundation Trust organisations; for 11 years she was a Chair in mental health, learning disability and community NHS Trust services. She has broad experience in governance, quality and patient safety, equality, diversity and inclusion. She is also strongly committed to patient/ service user, staff and stakeholder engagement. In her most recent appointment with Essex Partnership University Foundation Trust she has held the post of Senior Independent Director.

Alison has been involved in a number of charities and social enterprises during her career.

Professor Joe Harrison
Chief Executive 

Professor Joe Harrison has been an NHS acute hospital chief executive for almost ten years. He joined Milton Keynes University Hospital in 2013, transforming its record in quality, performance and finances. Under his leadership the trust has gained teaching hospital status and pioneered digital advances that have revolutionised patient care and experience.

Joe has championed innovation and expansion, overseeing significant development across the hospital estate, including the building of an academic centre in partnership with the University of Buckingham and a new cancer centre, along with multiple other developments to improve access and keep up with patient demand in one of the fastest growing places in the country.

Along with an ambitious digital innovation programme, Joe has championed workplace wellbeing to improve the working lives of the team at MKUH. He is also a board member of the Oxford Academic Health Science Network, chair of the Clinical Research Network Partnership Board for Thames Valley, member of the NHS Confederation Employers Policy Board and the University of Buckingham Council. Joe also works nationally with NHSX to transform health information across the health and care sector, giving patients power over their own information and enabling organisations to work together more effectively to provide better care.

John Blakesley
Deputy Chief Executive

John has over 30 years’ experience in the NHS. His career started in pathology, before moving into general management.

He has undertaken a range of executive director roles as director of performance and delivery as well as deputy chief executive and director of market management (commissioning for a large PCT).

In addition, John has experience of the commercial sector with a specialised surgical company. He has a particular interest in using information systems to improve patient care and decision-making.

Dr Ian Reckless
Medical Director / Deputy Chief Executive

Ian was appointed as Medical Director in April 2016.He qualified from St George’s Hospital Medical School, London and undertook postgraduate training in the Oxford region. He worked as Special Adviser to the Healthcare Commission in 2004, and was Special Assistant to the Chief Medical Officer in 2005-06.

Ian was appointed Consultant Physician and Senior NIHR Research Fellow at Oxford University Hospitals in 2007. He also held the roles of Associate Medical Director (Quality) and Clinical Director, Neurosciences. Ian has a good understanding of system working having been a member of the Governing Body of a Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) for several years, and is currently leading work with partner organisations on behalf of MKUH.

Ian continues to undertake clinical work in Acute Medicine. He remains an Honorary Consultant Stroke Physician / Senior Clinical Lecturer at the John Radcliffe Hospital.

Ian has a particular interest in postgraduate education, having previously served as Training Programme Director, and has authored books on general medicine, and the interface between medicine and the law.

Ian was appointed as a Deputy Chief Executive in 2020, with a particular focus on working with partners across Milton Keynes and the wider system.

Nicola Burns-Muir
Director of Patient Care and Chief Nurse

Nicky joined the Trust in 2016 as Deputy Chief Nurse.

Prior to this Nicky worked as a senior nurse for 10 years in district general hospitals as well as tertiary trusts. She has undertaken many roles in her career including Head of Nursing for Cancer at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Nicky has an MBA from Exeter University and a Masters in Leadership in Health from Kingston University. Nicky is also a trained coach and uses her coaching style to champion leadership and professional standards in Nursing, Midwifery and Therapies in order to drive high quality care and patient experience.

Emma Livesley
Chief Operations Officer

Emma joins MKUT from Nottingham University Hospital where she has spent the last 6 months as interim Deputy Chief Operating Officer. She has a wealth of NHS experience which started in Public Health and migrated into operational and management experience in the acute provider sector. She was Director of Operations at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire, and held senior management roles in Calderdale and Huddersfield FT and East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, the Royal Free, Guys and St Thomas’ London. Prior to her appointment in Nottingham, Emma also spent 18 months with NHS Improvement in regulation.

Emma’s passion is building high quality operational teams who deliver the best services for patients through partnership working and embracing the transformation agenda.

Terry Whittle
Director of Finance 

Terry joined the team in February 2021. Prior to joining Milton Keynes, he was Director of Financial Performance for the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, responsible for Barnet Hospital, Chase Farm Hospital and Group Clinical Services.

He is an alumnus of the NHS graduate programme and has a breadth of experience from senior finance roles in general, specialist and teaching hospitals. He has worked at a regional level as Head of Finance for NHS Improvement in London, as well as in a national capacity for the Department of Health and Social Care in England.

Terry is a chartered accountant, with an undergraduate degree in chemistry and a masters in healthcare leadership. He is a member of the HFMA Policy and Research Committee. Terry is a keen advocate for staff development and ensuring resources support quality care provision and value for taxpayers.

Kate Jarman
Director of Corporate Affairs

Kate has substantial experience as a communications professional and company secretary.

She has worked on and with boards in the acute health sector and police and criminal justice agencies. Before joining MKUH as director of corporate affairs, Kate spent a number of years at Bedford Hospital. At Bedford she held a number of posts including associate director of corporate affairs and communications as well as company secretary.

Kate is passionate about staff and patient engagement, leadership and culture. She is also interested in developing integrated governance systems to support the delivery of safe, effective, high quality care.

Danielle Petch
Director of Workforce

Danielle joined the Trust as Director of Workforce in July 2018 from Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust. Before joining MKUH Danielle worked at a variety of NHS Trusts, including a PCT, a London Teaching Hospital, a Yorkshire DGH, an Arm’s Length Body and a Mental Health Trust. Danielle holds an MBA from Durham University and a BSc (Hons) in Computer Science from the University of St Andrews, along with having completed the NHS Leadership Academy’s Nye Bevan programme. Throughout her career Danielle has led on a variety of initiatives to maximise workforce efficiency and staff experience. Danielle is passionate about the efficient delivery of HR services, including making the best use of technology to drive service improvement. Danielle won a 2018 HPMA Award for this work. Under Danielle’s leadership the strategic focus of the workforce agenda is to recruit and develop the workforce required today and for the future.


Jackie Collier
Director of Transformation & Partnerships

Jackie joined the Trust in March 2021.  She moved back into the NHS after developing a depth of knowledge and experience over the last 12 years working in healthcare consulting where she led teams to deliver large scale hospital productivity and transformation programmes. In 2015, her work was recognised as she was awarded two national consulting awards; Performance Improvement Consultant of the Year and overall Management Consultant of the Year, both awards across all sectors.  Jackie is an alumnus of the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme and worked for a period in operational management after completing the scheme.  She has a 1st Class BSc in Biomedical Science from Sheffield University and an MSc in Healthcare Leadership and Management.  Jackie is passionate about developing and supporting people to deliver sustainable change which will improve the experience of our patients.

Non-Executive Directors

The Board considers all non-executive directors to be independent as they were appointed to their roles through open competition and are not employees of the Trust.

Gary Marven
Non-executive Director
(Chair, Audit Committee)

Gary is an accomplished senior executive with over 20 years’ leadership experience, the majority of which he operated at board level, spanning both private and public sector organisations, from SMEs to globally-recognised brands. Gary commenced his career as a Chartered Accountant with Ernst & Young and progressed through various financial director roles in a major retail company, before moving into general management at the BBC where he ultimately led a major technology project, before becoming CEO of MLL Telecoms.

Gary retired as CEO in 2020 and has continued to work with MLL Telecom as a Non-Executive Director. Gary also provides free consultancy to charities supported by The Cranfield University Trust.

Professor James Tooley
Non-executive Director
(Chair, Workforce & Development Assurance Committee)

James joined the Trust in April 2021. He was appointed Vice-Chancellor at the University of Buckingham on 1 October 2020, where he is also Professor of Educational Entrepreneurship and Policy. For two decades he was professor of education policy at Newcastle University, during which took five years’ unpaid leave, to enable him to foster research-based entrepreneurial projects in education in the developing world. James was previously an academic at the universities of Oxford and Manchester.

James’ ground-breaking research on low-cost private education has won numerous awards, including gold prize in the first International Finance Corporation/Financial Times Private Sector Development Competition, a Templeton Prize for Free Market Solutions to Poverty, and the National Free Enterprise Award from the Institute of Economic Affairs, London. His book based on this research, The Beautiful Tree: A personal journey into how the world’s poorest are educating themselves, (Penguin), was a best-seller in India and won the Sir Antony Fisher Memorial Prize. Other of his books include Education, War and Peace and Liberty to Learn.

James has co-founded chains of low-cost schools in Ghana (Omega Schools), India (Cadmus Education), Honduras (Cadmus Academies) and, most recently, in England (Independent Grammar Schools). He is also involved with large associations of low-cost private schools, including as Patron of the Association of Formidable Educational Development (Nigeria) and Chief Mentor of the National Independent Schools Alliance (India). He lives in Buckinghamshire.

Heidi Travis
(Chair, Finance and Investment Committee)

Heidi joined the Trust in March 2018. She joined Sue Ryder in March 2010 as Director of Retail, and took on the role of Chief Executive in September 2013.

Previously, Heidi had worked as a business consultant developing small businesses. Before that, she spent 25 years at Marks and Spencer, most recently as an executive in group planning and strategy as well as managing a buying group.

Heidi also worked as a lay member of the Aylesbury Vale CCG until 2013. She became a non-executive director for Bucks PCT (now Bucks NHS) in 2008 and chairs a Bucks speech and language therapy group. She lives in Milton Keynes.

Helen Smart
Non-Executive Director
(Chair, Quality & Clinical Risk Committee)

Helen joined the Trust in March 2018. A nurse and health visitor by background, she has worked across the NHS since 1986. She has held a variety of senior Executive roles, including Executive Director of Nursing and Operational Director for Learning Disability Services at Northamptonshire Healthcare Trust. On top of this, Helen was Deputy Director of Commissioning for Primary Care and performance at NHS Bedfordshire.  Prior to her retirement Helen was Director of Community Services and  Lead Nurse for in Bedfordshire South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust.

Since July 2017, Helen has been operating in an interim consultancy capacity supporting service improvement and transformation across many areas/specialities, She has also worked for the then Department of Health, at Governmental level and in advisory roles for the CQC. She lives in Deanshanger, South Northamptonshire.

Haider Husain
Non-executive Director
(Chair, Charitable Funds Committee)

Haider joined the Trust in April 2020. He has held senior positions in a variety of multi-national companies in the technology sector, including GE Healthcare and Microsoft. He has a passion for quality, and has previously been an ISO auditor, Six Sigma Blackbelt and is currently a British Standards Institute committee member for Healthcare Organisation Management.

Haider serves as the Chief Operating Officer for Healthinnova, which specialises in transformational healthcare technology. He holds a BSc in Medical Informatics, and a Master of Informatics. Haider is married to a nurse, has a young son and lives in Bedfordshire.


Dr Luke James
Non-executive Director

Luke is currently the Group Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Bupa. He qualified in 1998 from UCL, is a qualified medical educator and appraiser and has over 20 years of clinical and management experience both within the NHS and private healthcare sector. He has also worked extensively in the medical insurance business both within the UK and globally.

Luke has a strong background in clinical quality and governance having spent several years as a Milton Keynes CCG board member responsible for planned secondary care and primary care quality.  He is passionate about advances in healthcare technology and the potential this has to improve quality and outcomes for patients. He is a keen sportsman and continues to play tennis and football.

Bev Messenger
Non-executive Director

Bev is an experienced former public/charity sector senior executive who now has a Non-Executive portfolio. A Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, her professional background is in HR/OD, but in the last decade she has focused on leadership and organisational transformation, most recently as CEO of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health.

Bev has a diverse non-executive background in a range of public charity and voluntary organisations, as well as NHS provider and commissioning bodies, joining MKUH from Northamptonshire CCG. She currently sits on three diverse boards in central Government, the social housing sector and nationally as Vice Chair of the Council for Work and Health.

Last Modified: 7:59am 13/04/2022