Executive Recruitment

Our Board

Professor Michael Brown CBE DL, Chair

Professor Brown joined the trust as Chair in September 2017. 

Professor Brown is the independent Chair of Procure Plus Holdings Limited and recently served as Chair of Alder Hey Children’s Charity. 

Previously the Vice-Chancellor, CEO and Board Member of Liverpool John Moores University, Michael served as Chair of the Strategy Committee of the Merseyside European Union Objective One Funding, the Liverpool Democracy Commission, Liverpool Strategic Improvement and Innovation Programme and the Liverpool and Merseyside Theatres Trust (Everyman and Playhouse Theatres).

Karen Howell, Chief Executive

Karen has been working across the system of Wirral for the last three years and is a highly experienced local, regional and national leader with in excess of 39 years working across the NHS, social care and independent sectors. 

Karen has significant experience working as both a clinician and manager across the care provider and commissioning sectors; primary care, community care, mental health and acute hospital services.  She is solution focused, preferring to work collaboratively across organisations and systems to effect positive change.  She is committed to workforce development and is currently the Senior Responsible Officer for Workforce for the Health & Care Partnership for Cheshire & Merseyside.  Karen is both a coach and mentor, practising locally, nationally and internationally, and is an advocate of continuing professional development and life-long learning.

Mark Greatrex, Chief Finance Officer / Deputy Chief Executive

Mark is the Chief Finance Officer for the trust and has worked for 28 years within the NHS. Prior to joining the trust, Mark has worked as Deputy Director of Finance at Liverpool Heart & Chest NHS Foundation Trust, the Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust and Mersey Regional Ambulance Service. Previous to this Mark spent 12 years at St. Helens & Knowsley Hospitals NHS Trust in various financial and non-financial roles. 

Mark has led Finance portfolios that have included Information, IT, Estates, Procurement and Facilities. Mark is a keen advocate of the Healthcare Financial Management Association, where he has served on its North West Branch Committee. 

Paula Simpson, Director of Nursing & Quality Improvement 

A committed nurse with 30 years’ experience in the NHS, Paula is passionate about providing high quality, person centred care.

 Paula graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing from the University of Liverpool in 1992 after which she embarked on a career in Health Visiting within Wirral. 

Over time Paula developed a keen interest in quality improvement, population health and health protection. This led her to complete a Master’s Degree in Applied Public Health, during which she undertook a variety of system wide commissioning and professional leadership roles across the Merseyside Health and Care System.

 Her passion for nursing leadership brought her back to Wirral in 2014 to undertake the role of Deputy Director of Nursing. Since then, Paula has been awarded a Florence Nightingale Scholarship and works at a national level to influence nursing workforce development.

Jo Shepherd, Director of Human Resources & Organisational Development

Jo has over 20 years’ experience as a Human Resources professional and has worked in the NHS since 2002. Prior to the role of Director of Human Resources at Wirral Community NHS Foundation Trust. 

Jo was Human Resources Director for NHS Wirral, and before that the Assistant Director of Human Resources at United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust. Previously Jo worked for 10 years in both managerial and senior HR roles in the Civil Service at the Lord Chancellor’s Department and OFSTED. 

She has undertaken the roles of Chair of the Cheshire and Merseyside HRD Network, a member of NHS Employers Staff Council and a member of the NHS Employers Equality and Diversity Council. She is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Dr Nick Cross, Medical Director

Nick is our Medical Director with close links to the Wirral. A graduate of Liverpool University medical school and the Countess of Chester Hospital as well as other hospitals within Merseyside. 

Initially embarking on a career in anaesthetics and intensive care, Nick became attracted to a career in general practice and has been a partner in a Wigan practice before moving back to a practice in East Yorkshire, where he has been until 2016. 

Nick has a strong desire to ensure that general practice and community service thrive and is keen to share his experience and leadership with us so that we can achieve this aim.


Val McGee, Chief Operating Officer

Val has over 36 years’ experience in the NHS, the majority of which has been in operational management. Val joined Wirral Community Foundation Trust in January 2015 as Director of Integration and Partnerships before appointment to her current role as Chief Operating Officer.

 Val was Service Director and Deputy Director of Operations for Cheshire and Wirral Partnership Trust, working across a wide geographical area. Prior to working with Cheshire and Wirral she worked in the acute sector as Hospital Manager in Wigan, followed by an operational role in mental health. 

She commenced her career at Leighton Hospital, Crewe as General Manager for Surgical specialities including A&E.

Alison Hughes, Director of Corporate Affairs

Alison has worked in the NHS for over 8 years providing leadership and advice to NHS Board of Directors on all matters associated with corporate governance. 

She has a sound understanding of the regulatory and political environment in which NHS organisations operate and provides leadership on all matters of corporate governance ensuring all statutory duties are met. She is also responsible for the Communications & Marketing strategies for the trust.   

Alison has worked closely with our Board of Directors for a number of years and played a key role in leading the trust to achieve Foundation Trust status in May 2016. As such, Alison provides advice and regulatory guidance to our trust Council of Governors. Alison previously worked in the pharmaceutical industry and brings a sound understanding and almost 10 years’ experience working in the commercial healthcare sector. 

Chris Bentley, Non Executive Director

Chris joined the Trust as a Non-Executive Director and Chair of the Quality & Safety Committee in February 2019. 

Chris has worked at Board level in the NHS for 22 years. He was Director of Policy and Public Health in Health Authorities in West Sussex and then Sheffield, and subsequently for the Strategic Health Authority of South Yorkshire. 

Chris was a clinical Non-Executive Director on the Board of Derbyshire Community Health Service NHS Trust for 7 years during which time the Trust was awarded Foundation Trust status. 

Chris is a well-known figure in population health and healthcare circles, primarily through his work as Head of the Health Inequalities National Support Team but also more recently as an independent consultant providing advisory support to the Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) agenda.

Gerald Meehan, Non Executive Director

Gerald joined the Trust as a Non-Executive Director and Chair of the Education & Workforce Committee in February 2019. 

Gerald has over 33 years’ experience in Local Government and the operation of local democracy with a track record of successfully delivering major change programmes in a range of settings including county, city, and metropolitan, unitary and combined authorities. 

Gerald has a broad set of leadership experiences with a strong emphasis on partnership working and innovative models of service. He is personally driven by a strong public sector ethos and progressive local democracy. 

Most recently Gerald was the Chief Executive of Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWAC) and the sub-regional lead for Cheshire & Warrington. Gerald is a specialist in Child Protection and Children’s services. 

Beverley Jordan, Non Executive Director

Former Vice President and Head of Operations, Global Medicines Development, Astra Zeneca. 

Beverley is a Chartered Accountant (trained with Coopers and Lybrand) with over twenty years in financial and broader corporate leadership roles across different business divisions at AstraZeneca, the FTSE-100 multi-national pharmaceutical company. 

She was latterly (2013-16) Vice-President and Head of Operations for Global Medicines Development Group, the business division responsible for the clinical development and Regulatory approval of new medicines globally. She is currently a Trustee and Honorary Treasurer for Wigan Borough Citizens’ Advice and a student mentor for Manchester Business School.