The Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust board takes collective responsibility for setting the strategic direction for the trust, which includes Barnet Hospital, Chase Farm Hospital, and the Royal Free Hospital. The board oversees our commitment to providing the best NHS services and patient experience through world class expertise and local care.
The full-time executive directors and part-time non-executive directors that make up the trust board are responsible for the daily running of the trust and its achievements against hospital performance and governance targets.
The board is also accountable for upholding the trust’s probity and its clinical quality indicators which are designed to ensure we achieve quality improvement, as well as better patient safety and outcomes.
The executive directors of the trust board are held to account by the non-executive directors, who in turn are held to account by the council of governors. The council of governors are elected by trust members from the public and staff communities we serve.
Our board members
Mark Lam — chair
Mark joined the Royal Free London as chair on 1 April 2021. He also became chair at our neighbouring trust North Middlesex University Hospital in October 2021.
Mark is a businessman and technologist, with many years of commercial experience in the digital and telecommunications sectors.
He currently holds a number of board positions at publicly listed and private businesses. He is the senior independent director of the FTSE 250 manufacturer Games Workshop Group PLC, and a non-executive director of Lowland Investment Company PLC and JT Group Limited.
He was previously the chief technology and information officer of Openreach and held senior management positions at BT Group, Siemens and Carphone Warehouse.
Mark comes from Singapore originally and studied at St Edmund Hall, Oxford University.
Doris Olulode — vice-chair
Doris Olulode was appointed non-executive director in December 2018.
Doris held senior positions in the UK and overseas including head of HR, Ford Motor Company, Australia and New Zealand and most recently HR director, Ford Motor Company for Europe, Middle East and Africa, with responsibility for around 25,000 employees across 30 countries. She also led Ford’s African Ancestry Network and was named by Autocar as one of the top 100 most influential women in the auto industry.
She is non-executive director for the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, Clarion Housing Group and University of East London, a lay member to the HM Courts and Tribunal Service, and currently freelances as an HR consultant.
Doris is also a non-executive director of the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust in Stanmore, London, and a member of the Royal Free London's audit committee and remuneration committee, and chair of the equality, diversity and inclusion taskforce and the people committee.
Pawan began his role as a non-executive director in May 2023.
Pawan has three decades of financial services experience, having held a number of executive leadership positions globally at several of the world's largest and most complex institutions. He has extensive finance, audit and risk management expertise in addition to digital transformation and intelligent automation implementation experience.
He is a passionate advocate for equality, diversity and inclusivity which he has championed throughout his career.
Pawan holds a degree in physics from Manchester University and is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, having trained with Coopers and Lybrand.
He is an experienced non-executive director, serving on the boards of several educational institutions, harnessing the transformative power of education to support students of all abilities on their life journeys, to facilitate broader health, wellbeing and economic prosperity.
Pawan is chair of the audit committee and is also a member of the finance and investment, group access, and remuneration committees.
Amanda Gibbon — senior independent director
Amanda Gibbon’s professional background is financial, but she also has a wide range of lay experience in healthcare, research, and clinical ethics.
She is a non-executive director and vice chair of Whittington Health NHS Trust and is an external member of the audit and risk committee of NICE.
Amanda was previously a foundation trust governor at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, where she continues to chair both their biobank ethical review and organ donation committees.
Amanda works with NHS Blood and Transplant in a number of capacities, including as a lay member of the National Organ Donation Committee and as regional chair for the London Organ Donation Collaborative.
She was a member (ie non-executive director) of the regulator, the Human Tissue Authority, where she chaired its audit and risk committee.
She is the non-executive chair of RareCan Ltd, a startup company which aims to increase the number of people with rare cancers who are involved in research.
Dame Donna Kinnair
Dame Donna Kinnair has held various roles in the NHS across primary and acute care, including clinical director of emergency medicine at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals and executive director of nursing for the South East London Cluster board.
She was the Royal College of Nursing’s CEO and general secretary from 2018-2021, and was previously its director of nursing responsible for policy and practice, including working with international nurses and academics.
Donna advised the Prime Minister’s Commission on the future of Nursing and Midwifery in 2010 and served as nurse/child health assessor to the Victoria Climbié Inquiry.
In 2008, she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to nursing.
Dr Mohini Parmar
Dr Mohini Parmar was appointed as a non-executive director in January 2022.
She is a senior partner of Barnabas Medical Centre in Ealing and has extensive experience in leading commissioning groups — she is currently chair of the North West London Clinical Commissioning Group, and was previously chair of Ealing Clinical Commissioning Group and vice-chair of Ealing health and wellbeing board.
Dr Parmar is also a member of the Imperial College Health Partners board.
Akta Raja was appointed as a non-executive director in January 2017.
She qualified as a solicitor at Slaughter and May and practiced mainly mergers and acquisitions for five years. She then moved on to the UK mergers and acquisitions team at HSBC Bank plc as an investment banker.
She founded her own company, Enhabit Limited, which was responsible for the first passivhaus retrofit — a low energy solution for buildings – in the UK. This business was sold to Ansor Ventures, a firm that incubates startups where Akta is now a partner.
Akta is a director of RFL Property Services Ltd and a trustee of the Royal Free Charity.
She chairs the finance and investment committee and is also a member of the remuneration and audit committees. Akta is also a member of the trust digital task force.
Sarah Rapson (associate — non-voting)
Sarah Rapson was appointed as an associate non-executive director in December 2021.
She has been executive director of supervision at the Financial Reporting Council since September 2021 and is responsible for overseeing audit quality reviews, corporate reporting reviews, audit firm supervision, audit market supervision and professional oversight teams.
She is also a non-executive director and senior independent director at the North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust.
From 2016-2021, Sarah was the director of authorisations at the Financial Conduct Authority, and prior to that she was a member of the Home Office Board as the first director general of UK Visas and Immigration, responsible for overseas visas, in-country immigration and asylum. She was also chief executive of the Identity and Passport Service (now HM Passport Office) from 2010-2013.
Before joining the civil service in 2005, Sarah’s career was in retail financial services and included management positions at American Express, Barclays and Woolwich plc. She graduated in mathematics from Lancaster University and has an MBA from London Business School.
Dr Michael Spence
Dr Michael Spence AC joined University College London (UCL) as president and provost in January 2021, from the University of Sydney where he was vice-chancellor from 2008 to 2020.
He led a year-long university-wide consultation to develop the UCL Strategic Plan 2022-27, setting out UCL’s priorities and ambitions in order to strengthen the excellence of UCL’s education, research and innovation.
In his first years at UCL, he led the university through the complexities of reopening campus following the end of COVID-19 lockdowns. He has also overseen the opening of UCL East, the university's major new campus in east London, in September 2022.
As vice-chancellor of the University of Sydney, he led the university’s rise to first in Australia and fourth in the world for graduate employability. He was responsible for raising a record one billion Australian dollars through the INSPIRED philanthropic campaign, which transformed the university’s campus by funding major new research and education centres.
Dr Spence is recognised internationally as a leader in the field of intellectual property theory and holds a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Oxford, where he headed Oxford’s law faculty and social sciences division.
In 2017, Dr Spence was named a Companion of the Order of Australia in recognition of his service to the higher education sector and in 2018 he was elected as a fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales.
James Tugendhat is chief executive of HC-One, the UK’s leading nursing and care home provider, working closely with local authorities and the NHS across the country.
James has experience across a wide range of sectors, having started his career in consumer services.
For more than 20 years he has held leadership roles in both health and the broader care sector in the UK, Europe and the US including several years as CEO of Boston-based Health Dialog, a pioneer of population health management.
James is also non-executive chair of Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice.
Group board directors
Peter Landstrom — group chief executive
Peter Landstrom was appointed as the Royal Free London's acting group chief executive on 11 October 2023 — he had been acting in the role since May 2023.
Peter joined the Royal Free London in April 2022 from his previous role as chief delivery and strategy officer for University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust.
A graduate of Cardiff University, Peter started his career as a management consultant in PricewaterhouseCoopers, before joining the NHS in 2003.
He worked in Cardiff and Vale University Health Board for more than 10 years and held senior operational management roles across community, secondary and tertiary services, including leadership at a national level for several specialist services in Wales.
In 2015 he joined Western Sussex Hospitals, where he was chief operating officer, before going on in 2017 to be appointed as one of the group executives of both the Western and Brighton, and Sussex trusts, and leading on their merger in 2021.
Crystal Akass — chief people officer
Crystal Akass joined the Royal Free London in November 2021.
She spent the first half of her career in central government, joining the Home Office in 2003 within Borders and Immigration and progressing to hold senior professional leadership roles including director of HR within the Cabinet Office and, most recently, director of people strategy and services at the Department for Work and Pensions — the largest UK government department, employing approximately 80,000 civil servants nationwide.
Ravi Baghirathan — chief transformation officer (non-voting)
Ravi Baghirathan is chief transformation at the Royal Free London, and is the executive director responsible for strategy, transformation and digital.
Prior to this role, Ravi was director of operations for the Kent and Medway Sustainability and Transformation Partnership. He was previously deputy director in the strategy group at NHS England and led on delivering strategy programmes from the Five Year Forward View.
Before moving into the NHS, Ravi worked as a senior policy adviser at the prime minister’s Strategy Unit on No 10 priorities, cross-government reform programmes and green and white papers under two governments.
Vicky Clarke — chief finance officer
Vicky Clarke joined the Royal Free London as chief finance officer in January 2022.
She is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, having trained with PricewaterhouseCoopers, and first joined the NHS in 2004.
Vicky has held various senior finance roles across a number of NHS providers, most recently as deputy chief finance officer at University College London Hospitals.
Dr John Connolly — Royal Free Hospital chief executive
Dr John Connolly, a renal consultant who has worked at the Royal Free London since 2004, is the chief executive of the Royal Free Hospital.
John was previously medical director of Royal Free Hospital and prior to that led the development of clinical practice groups for the Royal Free London group.
Julie Hamilton — chief nurse
Julie Hamilton was appointed as chief nurse in July 2020.
Julie, a nurse of 23 years, began her career in general surgery at St Mary’s Hospital, London, before moving to intensive care at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.
Following a number of years there in various clinical and professional leadership roles including director of nursing, Julie joined the Royal Free London in January 2019 as director of nursing for Barnet Hospital.
Emma Kearney — chief communications officer and senior information risk owner (non-voting)
Emma Kearney joined the Royal Free London in March 2015. She has more than 20 years' experience as a healthcare and NHS communications professional at board level. A journalist by profession, she advised nationally as part of the UK government’s and NHS' response to Ebola.
As SIRO (senior information risk owner), she is the board lead for the use of clinical and non-clinical data across the Royal free London, and leads the information governance department. Emma is also chair of Royal Free London Dispensary Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Royal Free London group, one of the biggest pharmacies in the NHS.
Deborah Sanders — Barnet Hospital chief executive and Chase Farm Hospital acting chief executive
Deborah Sanders has worked at the Royal Free London since 1994, having trained at the Royal Free Hospital.
She was appointed as the trust’s director of nursing in 2010. Before that, she worked at St Bartholomew’s Hospital and the London Chest Hospital. She was appointed chief executive of Barnet Hospital in March 2020. In July 2023, she also became acting chief executive of Chase Farm Hospital.
Deborah is also a board member of the Royal Free Hospital Nurses’ Home of Rest Trust and a trustee of the Royal Hospital for Neurodisability.
Dr Gillian Smith — chief medical officer
Dr Gillian Smith was appointed chief medical officer in November 2023, having held the role on an interim basis since 2022. She was previously medical director of the Royal Free Hospital.
A consultant urologist by background, Gillian has had a range of clinical and professional leadership experience with a focus on improvement and service transformation.