Trust Innovation Group – Meet the Team

Our Trust Innovation Group has a core team of highly experienced individuals, who are outlined below. The team offers a rolling programme of development opportunities to clinical and corporate staff from across the organisation, and draws on the expertise of its network of national and international experts.

The team’s professional project management qualifications include Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, PRINCE2, MSP and multiple certifications in improvement methodologies.

You can find more information below about our team’s experience and qualifications – click each person’s name in the box below to jump to their biography.

Carole Kaplan

Having retired from clinical work as a Consultant Child Psychiatrist, Carole Kaplan now works as the Trust Innovation Group’s Clinical and International Director.

Her career has centred on professional and voluntary work, providing advice and expertise in a number of different areas spanning the healthcare of children, their protection in law, adult relationships and dispute resolution, as well as the improvement of health service systems. In addition, as an academic, she has significant teaching and research experience.

In the rest of her time, Carole is currently chair of the Policy and Research Advisory committee for the national charity Relate and serves as a Trustee of the National Association of Child Contact Centres as well as recently having joined the Board of Research into Practice.  She also currently serves on three All Party Parliamentary Groups.

Her additional board work at a national level has included the Family Mediation Standards Board, the Voice of the Child Group, Advisory Board on Family Law, Council on Tribunals, Children Act Advisory Committee, NHS Litigation Authority and Association of Child and Adolescent Mental Health professionals, amongst others.

As an academic, Carole has published a book and many chapters and papers in the areas of child psychiatry, ethics and litigation with a number of papers for Government consultation and briefings.

Stewart Gee

Stewart Gee is the Director of the Trust Innovation Group, and of Safety, Security and Resilience across the organisation.

Stewart’s experience spans multiple and varied large scale transformational change programmes in both public and private sectors. Having worked for Nissan Motor Corporation for over 20 years and the NHS for the past 10 years, he has developed a vast knowledge of quality improvement methodologies and change management techniques, translating these to work in healthcare settings.

Since joining the NHS, Stewart has led the design and implementation of whole system change and continuous improvement approaches both in CNTW and in supporting other organisations to improve patient care and reduce waste across the NHS and wider systems nationally.

Stewart’s qualifications include:

  • BA(hons) Applied Management
  • Lean Six Sigma Black Belt
  • Virginia Mason Certified Leader
  • Practitioner: PRINCE2; Managing Successful Programmes, P30

Sarah Keetley

Sarah Keetley is the Associate Director of the Trust Innovation Group.

With an academic background in scientific research from Durham and Manchester, she turned her attention to improvement in the NHS in 2003, and has successfully led on many projects to improve clinical, IT, performance and administrative systems, as part of a sector-leading programme of whole-scale change within CNTW, and, more recently, supporting other NHS Trusts who are beginning their improvement journey.

Sarah’s work includes baselining complex systems and using that analysis to facilitate whole scale service redesign. She is a practitioner of continuous improvement methodologies, of PRINCE2 and MSP®, and is a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Having lectured in IT solutions and in her own field of doctoral research at Manchester, Sarah has designed and delivered training to clinical and corporate staff on a range of subjects and is now working to support NHSE with the development of their Demand & Capacity modelling programme nationally. Facilitation of stakeholder involvement and service design events is a passion, as is coaching others to build skills and identify value in this approach.

Sarah’s qualifications include:

  • BSc (Hons) Dunelm; MSc; PhD
  • Lean Six Sigma Black Belt
  • Practitioner: PRINCE2; Managing Successful Programmes
  • Train the Trainer: Demand & Capacity (NHSI/NHSE)

Matthew Price

Matthew Price is the Operational Support Manager of the Trust Innovation Group.

Matthew is a Social Worker, who on qualifying in 2002 initially worked within Community Mental Health Services in Surrey, before moving to the North East in 2004. He subsequently undertook further post qualifying study and worked as an Approved Social Worker (ASW) and subsequently as an Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP). During his career, Matthew has worked within a number of multi-disciplinary Community Mental Health Teams in the North East, and has worked extensively within the legal frameworks of mental health and associated legislation, both as a Senior Social Worker in Local Authorities and as an Independent Social Worker.

In 2015, Matthew began working for the CNTW Initial Response Service (IRS), a single point of access service, and during his time there was involved in the development of systems and processes, taking a continuous improvement approach. This led to joining the Trust Innovation team in September 2019 as a Clinical Lead.

Matthew’s qualifications include:

  • PGC with commendation – Mental Health Social Work Award
  • Full Post Qualifying Award in Social Work
  • Approaches to Learning and Assessment in Practice

Andrew Barker

Andrew Barker is the Quality Improvement Development Lead for the Trust Innovation Group.

His career can be roughly divided into thirds with the first working clinically as a Nurse in a regional inpatient Child & Young People’s Service and international child mental health training service. He went on to manage a range of children’s inpatient wards supplying both regional and national coverage including learning disability, mental health, eating disorders and forensic specialities. The latter part of his career includes managing CNTW’s Productive Ward team supporting clinical services to achieve significant improvements in efficiency, safety and patient care.

Andrew’s current role is focused on refreshing the quality improvement approach across CNTW to meet the needs of the recently developed leadership model across the organisation.

Andrew’s qualifications include:

  • Registered Nurse – Learning Disabilities
  • Understanding and Treatment of mental ill-health in Childhood and Adolescence, Newcastle University
  • BA(hons) Leadership & Management (1st), Newcastle Business School
  • Lean Practitioner, Cardiff Business School
  • Virginia Mason Certified Leader
  • Lean Six Sigma Black Belt

Zoe Awburn

Zoe joined the team in 2019 and is a Programme Manager/Service Improvement Lead within the Trust Innovation Group.

After graduating, she managed operations in the private dental sector, liaising with NHS practices across the country helping them to transform their services to match current demand. Spells at North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust and Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust followed, where she worked in the Project Management Office, Executive Office and Emergency Planning team, working on projects at various levels from next generation inventory systems in Operating Theatres to whole service change. With a key focus on improvements in the Acute, Community and Mental Health services, Zoe is trained in Lean methodologies and has led on externally commissioned work for the team.

Zoe’s qualifications include:

  • BA International Relations
  • CLIC + QI
  • Level 3 Award in Education and Training (PTLLS)

Amanda Hewitt

Amanda is a Programme Manager/Service Improvement Lead within the Trust Innovation Group.

She joined the team in 2020 having previously worked alongside Trust Innovation in Cumbria. Working in the NHS since 1999, starting as a Registered Mental Health Nurse within Rehab and Enduring Mental Health Inpatient Services before moving on to specialise in Child and Adolescent Mental Health.  During her career in CAMHS, Amanda held both clinical and operational lead roles.  Following her passion and interest in improvement, Amanda became Service Development Lead for CAMHS before the role developed further to include ADHD, Children’s and Adult Learning Disability and Adult Autism Assessment Services.

  • Amanda’s qualifications include:
  • Diploma of Higher Education in Mental Health Nursing
  • BSc Practice Development – Child and Adolescent Mental Health
  • QI tools and techniques

Aileen Boulton

Aileen is a Programme Manager/Service Improvement Lead within the Trust Innovation Group.

She started her career in project management and service improvement at BAE Systems after transferring from Aeronautical Engineering, with a focus on resource and lean planning and multi-team/country integration. She joined the NHS in 2009 at the Business Service Agency, developing fit for purpose performance systems and programme management of major projects, and then transferred to NTW to work on programmes and project of varying sizes and complexity including service improvements.

She has delivered training on Project Management, Certified Leader in Improvement and Digital Dictation courses within the Trust.

Aileen’s qualifications include:

  • BSc in Mathematics and failure analysis
  • Certified Leader
  • Prince 2, Managing successful programme and Benefits management
  • Mary Seacole – Health Leadership.

Jonny Flanagan

Jonny Flanagan is a Programme Manager/Service Improvement Lead within the Trust Innovation Group.

Jonny’s background started in retail where he was North East and Cumbrian Co-Op’s youngest retail store and Post Office manager at 18. He went on to implement retail style stock management systems in the motor and telecom industries before joining the NHS in 2004 with Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust.  Moving to North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust in 2014, he also acted as a guest lecturer for project management studies at the University of Cumbria.

Jonny joined the Trust Innovation Group in CNTW in 2018.  During his NHS career, Jonny has worked across three NHS Trusts in roles involving change management, programme management, project management, service improvement facilitation and stakeholder engagement, and is sharing the approaches of other sectors with colleagues in mental health.

Jonny’s qualifications include:

  • BSc History
  • Degree in Service Improvement, Transformation and Learning
  • MCIPS Professional diploma
  • CLIC (Cumbrian Learning & Improvement Collaborative) Service Improvement Facilitator
  • Six Sigma Black Belt
  • Train the Trainer approaches

Agata Wiorowska

Agata is a Programme Manager/Service Improvement Lead within the Trust Innovation Group, having joined CNTW in 2020.

After gaining qualifications in the field of Psychology and wanting to pursue a career in the NHS, Agata joined the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme, whereby she worked in multiple organisations, including acute, commissioning support, and the private sector. Agata subsequently worked as an operational manager in the Radiology department at the Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust, undertaking a project management secondment whilst there to implement a new PACS system.  With a passion for mental health and working with services to support delivery of excellent quality patient care, Agata is leading on programmes to deliver large scale change and improved ways of working.

Agata’s qualifications include:

  • BSc (Hons) Psychology
  • MSc Health Psychology
  • PGCert Healthcare Leadership (Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Programme)
  • PGDip Health Informatics
  • PRINCE2 Practitioner
  • Certified Leader Training


Carol Smith

Carol Smith is a Programme Manager/Service Improvement Lead within the Trust Innovation Group.

Carol Smith has over twenty years’ experience working as a developer in IT, having started as a programmer, then moving into business analysis and then Lean.  Carol has planned and delivered change across directorates, supporting people to implement and maintain new processes.

She has worked as a Service Improvement facilitator/manager for the past 15 years, in acute and now mental health sectors.

Carol’s qualifications include:

  • BSc(Hons) Mathematics
  • PGCE Secondary Mathematics
  • Lotus Notes Professional
  • Certified Leader in Lean

Paul McCourt

Paul McCourt is a Programme Manager/Service Improvement Lead within the Trust Innovation Group.

With a background in business information technology, information engineering and management, Paul has more recently concentrated on business process improvement and quality improvement systems. He has 13 years’ experience as a senior manager in the NHS, working in operational, project and programme environments.

Paul has successfully led major projects and programmes to enhance efficiency and effectiveness in a variety of settings, including whole hospital builds.

Paul has taught a range of subjects from introductory IT Skills to modules in health informatics at masters’ level.

Paul’s qualifications include:

  • MSc Business Information Technology
  • Practitioner: PRINCE2; MSP
  • QIS for Leaders

Thomas Hooper

Tom is an Improvement Project Lead within the Trust Innovation Group, who began his NHS career in Primary Care, moving across to support Executive Directors in CNTW, and finding a home with Trust Innovation Group. Tom has spent the last 5 years climbing the ladder from business admin apprentice to his current role leading a complex Trust-wide project while completing his degree in Project Management at the University of Cumbria.

Tom’s natural abilities lie in co-production, supporting Service Users, Carers and staff to work together, balancing the needs of multiple stakeholders with competing deadlines and priorities.

  • Prince 2 Foundation
  • Certified Lean Leader
  • BSc Project Management

Jenny Myles

Jenny is an Improvement Project Lead within the Trust Innovation Group.

With a background in delivering frontline training, supported employment and service development initiatives across learning disability and mental health sectors, she has brought expertise and experience in advocacy and co-production into her varied roles across CNTW.  As an operational manager, Jenny coordinated complex and sensitive change projects before making the move to join Trust Innovation in 2020.

Jenny’s qualifications include:

  • Post-graduate diploma in Social and Vocational Rehab Management
  • Certificates in workforce planning, workforce adaptation and group facilitation

Alison Lathan

Alison Lathan is an Improvement Project Lead within the Trust Innovation Group.

Having joined the Trust in 2004, she worked across multiple services including Community Addictions, Primary Care and Crisis, before taking up an operational lead role in 2014.  Managing the nationally renowned 24/7/365 Digital Dictation service for 7 years, Alison has hosted visitors from across the country and from many sectors, interested in the novel ways of working she established, which release significant capacity to care for clinical colleagues.

Whilst under the management of Trust Innovation Group for the first 4 years of her role, she had the pleasure of developing her skills in subjects which many line managers would benefit from, such as Quality Improvement tools, project management approaches, and understanding Demand versus Capacity.

Sharon Handyside

Sharon is an Improvement Project Lead within the Trust Innovation Group.

She joined the NHS in 1995 as a secretary in what was formerly known as Northgate and Prudhoe NHS Trust, working across Autism, Community and Forensic Services. Taking up the role of Administration Manager from 2005, Sharon has played a lead role in developing Forensic and Community Services, and in mentoring countless admin staff, before joining Trust Innovation in 2022. With 16 years of experience in an operational management role, her experience in developing and adapting to change with teams, training and mentoring, and leading on service improvement initiatives made her a key part of the wider leadership team across clinical pathways.

Sharon’s qualifications include:

  • Foundation Degree in Management
  • Collective Leadership
  • Associate Project Manager Level 4

Jill Beattie

Jill is an Advanced Information Analyst within Trust Innovation Group, who joined the team in September 2021.

Jill has worked in several roles within the NHS since graduating from the University of Leeds with a degree in Mathematics and Statistics. Her most recent role was in the North East Quality Observatory Service (NEQOS) and prior to that worked in the Information Services team at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS FT. These roles resulted in Jill developing strong Microsoft Excel and SQL skills, enabling her to analyse complex datasets, as well as a good understanding of NHS datasets and systems, such as SystmOne and IAPTus. Jill also has experience of creating dashboards to monitor performance and has a keen interest in data visualisation.

Alice Godfrey

Alice is an Advanced Information Analyst within the Trust Innovation Group, with experience of using tools such as SQL Server Management Studio and Microsoft Excel.

Prior to joining CNTW, Alice worked as a Senior Information Analyst at North of England Commissioning Support (NECS). She also has experience of working in a Trust setting as an Information Analyst at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust between 2018 and 2020. With an undergraduate degree in Mathematics (BSc) and analytical experience, Alice has technical skills that are used to extract and analyse data to assist in the monitoring of Trust performance and the improvement of Trust services.

Michelle Evans

Michelle is a Project Coordinator within the Trust Innovation Group.

Michelle has worked in a variety of administrative roles in a range of services and teams over a twelve year period and has also volunteered to cover many other administrative roles gaining a wide experience. She started in CNTW in Neurorehabilitation then later moved to the Centre for Specialist Psychological Therapies. Her most recent previous roles were PA to senior management, then Project Support Officer. Michelle enthusiastically supports her Trust Innovation Group colleagues in a variety of Trust-wide projects.

Michelle’s qualifications include:

  • Various NVQs in Admin and Business
  • Audio typing and RSA qualifications
  • I’ve a BA(hons) in Literature
  • PGCE in English and Drama

Sandra McGuire

Sandra is a Project Coordinator within the Trust Innovation Group.

Before taking up her role she has worked for over 30 years in a variety of positions in the NHS, most recently as an Administrative Team Lead, where she had line management responsibility for 23 staff and was involved in the planning and coordinating of administrative systems, adapting and implementing change when needed.

Her interest in quality improvement led to Sandra joining Trust Innovation where she recently attained a Certified Lean Leader training qualification.

Sandra enjoys utilising her organisational and analytical skills supporting programme management with their project delivery.

Sarah Jamieson

Sarah is a Project Support Officer within the Trust Innovation Group. With a background in business and finance, Sarah joined the NHS in 2020 and Trust Innovation Group in 2022.

Sarah is passionate about improving services for our patients and carers and has a keen interest in Project Management and Quality Improvement. She is eager to explore more Lean methodologies and build up on her skills.

Sarah has an aptitude for organising and planning, which lends well to supporting the projects within Trust Innovation Group. She is adept at problem solving and collaborative working, having gained expertise working on projects with a wide range of stakeholders in public, private and third sector organisations.

Sarah hopes to further develop and progress to project manager within the NHS, continuing to focus on service development, to improve patient, carer and staff experience.

  • BSc (Hons)
  • GradDip
  • PGDip

Robert Hardy

Robert is an Improvement Practitioner Apprentice within the Trust Innovation Group.

Robert previously worked for a North East based Industrial Automation company in administration following his graduation from Northumbria University where he read Finance and Investment Management. During his time at Northumbria University Robert took part in the Undergraduate Consultancy Project as a part of his final year dissertation where he achieved a first-class classification for his work helping a local company find solutions to their problems and develop recommendations for implementing them in the future.

Robert hopes to develop skills his quality improvement and project management skills through a coordination of working along the team and his training in Lean improvement techniques and Green Belt Six Sigma qualification.

  • BA (Hons) Finance and Investment Management