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The Board

Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust (KCHFT) has a legally constituted board made up of executive and non-executive members. The board of directors sets strategic direction and then monitors performance and progress.

The board is made up of non-executive directors who use the skill and experience gained from the private, public and voluntary sectors to help run the trust, but who do not have day-to-day managerial responsibilities within the Trust; and executive directors who are paid employees with clear areas of work responsibility within the Trust.

The board is held to account by our council of governors which is made up of members of the public elected by you to represent your views.

Meetings and papers

Regular board meetings are held in public and in closed session.

  • Board papers will be published one week before the meeting
  • All meetings will be held as a Microsoft Teams live event
  • All meetings start at 10am.

Board meetings in 2021

Board meetings taking place on Microsoft Teams live event

Following the government’s guidance on social distancing, no members of the public or staff can physically attend the public Board meeting but they can access the meeting virtually.

You can watch the Board online through Microsoft Teams, if you don’t have Teams you can still watch our live event. When Teams loads on your screen, click cancel on the message box that appears and then click on ‘watch on web instead’. There should be a link for you to join anonymously.

By joining our live event you are agreeing not to record the event for personal or commercial use.

There will be an opportunity towards the end of the meeting for members of the public to ask questions relating to items on the agenda. This will be done through the Q&A function.

Board meetings in 2020

Thursday, 6 February 2020
The Committee Room, Tonbridge and Malling Council Offices
Gibson Building, Gibson Drive, Kings Hill, West Malling, Kent ME19 4LZ

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Thursday, 6 August 2020
This meeting was broadcast as a virtual public board meeting through a Microsoft Teams live event.

Thursday, 5 November 2020
This meeting was recorded on Microsoft Teams.

Board meetings in 2019

Thursday, 31 January
The Oak Room, Oakwood House, Oakwood Park, Maidstone ME16 8AE

Thursday, 28 March
Rooms 6 and 7, Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust Offices, Trinity House, 110 – 120 Upper Pemberton, Kennington, Ashford Kent TN25 4AZ

Thursday, 23 May
Rooms 6 and 7, Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust Offices, Trinity House, 110 – 120 Upper Pemberton, Kennington, Ashford Kent TN25 4AZ

Thursday, 25 July
The Orchards Events Venue, New Road, East Malling, Kent ME19 6BJ

Thursday, 26 September
Village Hotel, Castle View, Forstal Rd ME14 3AQ
Our annual meeting, let’s discuss cancer.
Please note there is no formal board meeting on this event.

Thursday, 28 November
Sevenoaks Town Council Offices, Bradbourne Vale Road, Sevenoaks, TN13 3QG

For questions about board meeting papers please contact: Natalie Davies Corporate Services Director 01622 211900

Board Members


John Goulston

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John Goulston is the chair of the Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust.

He is a father-of-three, from Beckenham, who has a wealth of experience working in non-executive and executive roles. John is currently also interim chair of Kent and Medway, Integrated Care System (ICS) and chair of NHS London Procurement Partnership. Formerly, John was chief executive of both acute and community health providers. He has been an executive director of NHS London, the strategic health authority for London, plus director of finance at two London teaching hospitals during his career.

During his time as chief executive Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, John helped establish the One Croydon Alliance, a 10-year agreement to integrate services across health and social care for all. Aimed at increasing partnership working between Croydon’s NHS, GPs, the local authority and the voluntary sector in the borough, the alliance seeks to give people greater control of their health and choice of services.

Much of his early career was in Kent, working in Maidstone during the 80s.

John’s daughter is a doctor and his wife is a community physiotherapist.

Chief Executive

Paul Bentley

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Paul Bentley – named as one of the top NHS chief executives in the country by the Health Service Journal in 2021 – has held the position of chief executive of Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust since 1 March 2016.

Under Paul’s leadership, KCHFT has held an ‘outstanding’ rating by the Care Quality Commission since 2019. In 2021, staff rated the organisation among the best in the country to work for in the annual NHS staff survey results and as one of the highest performing community trusts in the country in five areas. Paul has spearheaded improvements in patient satisfaction and staff engagement, as well as ensured the trust remained in financial balance.

Passionate about partnerships, Paul is a key player in the Kent and Medway Integrated Care System and the development of integrated care partnerships. He also senior responsible officer (SRO) for the east Kent integrated care partnership, as well as SRO for community services transformation across the south east and is leading work to improve care for people with learning disabilities and autism; something he feels personally passionate about. He has also led the trust to sign partnership agreements with Kent County Council and Kent and Medway Health and Social Care Partnership Trust.

A father of grown-up triplets, Paul has a wealth of experience of not only NHS healthcare, but has also studied in the US. Prior to joining KCHFT, Paul was Director of Workforce and Communications at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust since 2011.

He has worked in the NHS since 1987 and as an NHS director since 1998 leading on strategy, organisational development and workforce and communications. During this time, he was also interim chief executive in Surrey, director of strategy at Ashford and St Peter’s Trust and held the position of non-executive director for NHS innovations South East.

He lives in South West London with his wife and dog, Rosie. There is no escaping health as Paul’s wife also works as a health consultant and his daughter is a junior doctor. His two sons haven’t followed in their parents footsteps, with one working as a geologist and the other in the music industry and over-taking his dad on their half-marathons.

Paul is passionate about KCHFT delivering high-quality care for all and believes it’s important for colleagues to have a work life balance. In his spare time, Paul enjoys family time, boxing and running.

Non-executive Director

Bridget Skelton

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Bridget Skelton has 25 years’ experience as a senior executive and board member in organisations in the legal, financial, management consultancy, retail, public and voluntary sectors. She brings particular know how to effect business transformation, enhance performance and manage cultural development and change. Bridget lives in rural Kent.

Non-executive director

Pippa Barber

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Pippa Barber brings a wealth of experience with a strong clinical background and focus on governance ,quality and improvement from nearly 40 years’ experience in the NHS. She has spent the last 20 years in various Board roles including more recently as a Non-Executive Director .Pippa has  significant past experience working in senior clinical roles, including Chief Nurse and Director, with a number of different organisations across the system:  Acute, Community, Primary Care, Clinical Network, Mental Health and Commissioning.

She currently also works as the Independent Nurse for a Clinical Commissioning Group in London, where she maintains an essential focus on system learning ,Health inequalities, quality and performance and is a Trustee for a Kent based Charity. Pippa lives in Kent.

Non-executive Director

Peter Conway

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Peter has a professional background in banking and finance spanning 28 years, latterly as a finance director with Barclays Bank PLC. He has been a Non-Executive Director with the NHS since 2006. He has held a portfolio of public sector roles including:

  • Non-Executive Director at Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust
  • Non-Executive Director and Audit Chair, Rural Payments Agency
  • Non-Executive Director and Audit Chair, NHS West Kent
  • Independent Member of the Audit Committees of the Home Office, Ministry of Justice, DEFRA, Health and Safety Executive and Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission
  • Trustee Director, Citizens Advice North and West Kent
Non-executive Director

Francis Drobniewski

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Professor Francis Drobniewski divides his time between clinical practice, education and research. He is Professor of Global Health and Tuberculosis at Imperial College, London, a Consultant Medical Microbiologist and was a tuberculosis physician. He has worked in Europe, USA and Africa, and was Director of the public health UK National TB Laboratory for 19 years.  Francis is clinical TB adviser for NICE and an adviser to the WHO.

Having spent 20 years as a consultant, Francis is keen to do more in the strategic development of health services. He has worked alongside public health and worked with community services and believes in keeping people out of hospital wherever possible.

Non-executive Director

Nigel Turner

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Nigel is a group human resources director with a proven track record in leading contemporary transformational people-change in some of the most challenging UK organisational scenarios.

His career has included leading the people agenda of the £400million digital transformation of Argos before its sale to Sainsbury’s.

He also took the lead role for people in the government-funded modernisation of the Royal Mail, providing strategic support to the HR director at Northern Rock following the financial crisis and led the people strategy at Spire Healthcare. Nigel lives in Harrietsham, near Maidstone.

Non-executive Director

Paul Butler

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Paul is a chartered accountant with extensive management, financial and regulatory experience.

From 2001-2020 Paul had been Managing Director of Mid Kent Water and subsequently South East Water.

Previously, Paul worked as Group Financial Controller of Mid Kent Water and he has been a non-executive director of Water UK, the water industry trade body and Chairman of UKWIR, a research organisation for the water sector.

Non-executive Director

Sola Afuape

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Sola has 20 years’ experience advising, designing and implementing national, regional and local public sector programmes most notably delivering health inequalities and service improvements. She has been a chair of a national charity tackling social and health inequalities with a particular focus on mental health, for which she was awarded an MBE.

In the early part of her career, she held a number of advisory roles and worked across the Department of Health, Public Health England, Standing Commissioning on Carers and the Arts and more recently across a collaboration of CCGs as a lay advisor in integrated care and transformational workforce and organisation development.

She runs her own consultancy specialising in strategy, organisational development and equalities and conducting independents across health and social care and the wider public sector for organisations such as CafCass. She is also a special advisor for the Care Quality Commission and independent member of HMRC’s London Advisory Committee. Sola has a deep passion for the wellbeing of patients, their families and carers, staff and citizen voice, co- production and systems leadership.

Chief Operating Officer

Pauline Butterworth

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Pauline, who is originally from Carnoustie, Scotland, joins the trust from East Sussex Healthcare Trust where she has been deputy chief operating officer since 2013.

During that time that she was also programme director for transformation of urgent care at Hastings and Rother and Eastbourne and Seaford Clinical Commissioning Group.

A trained clinician, Pauline worked as a therapist and manager in the USA and in paediatrics in Australia, before returning to the UK. She moved to work in the NHS in 2008 and has worked across a breadth of services, including community, acute and commissioning, as well as social care.

Medical Director

Dr Sarah Phillips

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Sarah is a GP at Newton Place Surgery in Faversham, Kent.

Prior to joining Kent Community Health as the Medical Director, Sarah was Clinical Chair of Canterbury and Coastal Clinical Commissioning Group and Chair of East Kent Strategy Board. The Board, now known as the East Kent Programme Board, has been set up by local health and care commissioners to spearhead the drive to determine how best to provide health and care services to the population of east Kent. Its work is part of the wider Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) for Kent and Medway.

Sarah’s work on the Board included reviewing issues around staff retention, the use of technology, buildings and estates, and clinical pathways such as maternity, paediatrics, end-of-life care and mental health.

Until April 2017, Sarah was also Commissioner Co-Chair of Kent and Medway Sustainability and Transformation Partnership Clinical Board, which was set up to ensure the NHS future plans meet the health and social care needs of the communities it serves.

Sarah lives in Canterbury with her two children. She is also a keen tennis player.

Executive Director of Finance and Deputy Chief Executive

Gordon Flack

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Gordon is a fellow of the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants (FCCA) and has a professional background in NHS finance spanning 37 years. Following an early career with health authorities, his director experience is with acute and community trusts and has been at the trust since 2011.

His responsibilities include financial management and control, capital and audit, IM&T, business development and service improvement, as well as performance and business intelligence.

Gordon lives in Essex with his wife and two sons and is keen on gliding and sailing.

Chief Nurse

Dr Mercia Spare

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Mercia joined as our permanent Chief Nurse in January 2020 following a 13 month secondment from NHS Improvement.

Mercia has worked in the Health Service for 35 years and describes herself as a ‘passionate champion of the NHS and the values it embodies’.  Her clinical experience includes transplantation, coronary care, renal and cardiothoracic nursing. Mercia holds a Batchelor of Science degree in applied and human biology and Doctorate in clinical research.

During her career Mercia has delivered a number of senior leadership roles within the NHS at both an operational and strategic level. She has led a number of large scale national improvement projects and supported the development of a range of tools that have focused on improving the safety of patients. She has worked for a number of provider organisations including University Hospitals Birmingham NHS FT, as well as the Department of Health, the Trust Development Authority and NHS Improvement.

Director of Workforce, Organisation Development and Communications

Louise Norris

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Louise has more than 30 years’ experience in NHS Human Resources and has worked at Regional, Trust and Primary care level.

She is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

She has an MBA and an MA in Strategic Human Resources. She is a management side representative on the NHS Staff Council.

Louise lives with her husband in West Malling.

Corporate Services Director

Natalie Davies

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Natalie has worked within the NHS in both acute and community settings for over 20 years. As the Corporate Services Director, Natalie has a strong background in corporate governance, risk management and compliance. Natalie has primary responsibility for a number of areas, including Estates, Facilities, Legal, Risk and compliance.

In addition to spending time with her two boys, Natalie has a number of hobbies including working with local acting groups.

Director of Strategy and Partnerships

Gerard Sammon

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Before joining KCHFT Gerard had experience of working for more than twenty years in a number of NHS board and leadership roles including serving as an interim Chief Executive. In previous posts he led system wide changes and programmes of work with other health and care organisation that spanned North Kent and South East London and pioneered the introduction of Group Models into the NHS.

He previously studied at Kings College London, Ashridge Business School and was a member of the NHS Top Leaders Programme. He is keen on coaching youth basketball and is married with three children.