Meet the Team

The AHSN 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. Enthusiastic about how to the North East North Cumbria is recognised for all the fab things it does. The infrastructure in the region to support innovation…

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…

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…

Dr Joe Chidanyika

National AAC/AHSN Lipid and FH Programme Manager  

Talk to me about... CVD, Lipid Optimisation and FH
Email: [email protected]

Joe Chidanyika

Joe joined the AHSN NENC team in 2020 as the national AAC / AHSN Lipid Management and FH Programme Manager, a key national AHSN programme. He works alongside Professor Julia Newton to deliver this national programme, which merges novel therapies…

Mark Walsh

Trusted Research and Evaluation Environment (TREE) Portfolio Manager 

Talk to me about... TREs, Digital, Healthcare collaborations
Email: [email protected]

Mark is currently Portfolio Manager for the NENC ICS ‘Trusted Research and Evaluation Environment’ (TREE.) Previously he was Programme Manager for the Great North Care Record (GNCR), helping develop the initial concept and blueprint for delivery. Mark was Director of…

Joanne Famelton

HR Manager 

Talk to me about... Everything HR
Email: [email protected]

Joanne is responsible for HR at the AHSN NENC on a day-to-day basis. Since gaining an MA in Human Resource Management and Development at Northumbria University she has worked in HR generalist roles across the North East in various sectors,…

Nikki Holdsworth

Project Lead, Regional Coordinator 

Talk to me about... CVD Prevention, AAC RUP - PCSK9i, Atrial Fibrillation, AliveCor
Email: [email protected]

As part of the CVD Programme team, Nikki is the regional co-ordinator for NENC trusts involved in the Pathway Transformation Funding (PTF) High Intensity Statin (HIS) and PCSK9 inhibitors programme. Nikki joined the AHSN in July 2016 as project lead…

Kirstie Taylor

Director of Communications and Engagement 

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…

Sarah Black

Communications and Events Manager 

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

Working within the 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 professionally. Sarah…

Victoria Strassheim

Musculoskeletal Workstream Project Lead 

Talk to me about... ESCAPE Pain, Spinal Pathway and Chronic Pain
Email: [email protected]

Victoria Strassheim is a Clinical Academic physiotherapist, with over 25 years wide ranging clinical experience and a master’s in clinical research. She also works in a multi-disciplinary fatigue clinic for patients with long term health conditions. Victoria has worked in…

Catherine Kelly

Deputy National Programme Manager (Lipid Management) 

Talk to me about... Child Parent Screening, FH and Lipids
Email: [email protected]

Child-Parent Screening, Familial Hypercholesterolaemia

Karen Verrill

Programme Manager 

Talk to me about... Patient Safety, Identifying deterioration in care homes, Blood Pressure Optimisation
Email: [email protected]

Karen currently works on the Managing Deterioration programme is to reduce deterioration associated harm by improving the prevention, identification, escalation and response to physical deterioration.  This involves working with key partners and stakeholders to promote better system co-ordination and develop…