Group Executive biographies

The group executive is comprised of the network chief executives, country directors and the group senior management team. They are responsible for the day-to-day running of the NHS Confederation Group and the implementation of the corporate strategy.


Niall Dickson, Chief Executive, NHS Confederation

Niall has served in some of the most prominent national roles in health and care. Before joining the NHS Confederation, for seven years he was the chief executive and registrar of the General Medical Council, where he oversaw a raft of major reforms. For six years before that he was chief executive of the King’s Fund which under his leadership pioneered work on managing long term conditions and the reform of social care funding. 
For sixteen years (from 1988 to 2004) he was a senior correspondent for BBC News, latterly as Social Affairs Editor. Early in his career he was the editor of Nursing Times and of a journal for allied health professionals.  


Daniel Mortimer, Chief Executive, NHS Employers

Danny Mortimer took up post as chief executive of NHS Employers in November 2014. NHS Employers is the voice of employers across the NHS, and leads work relating to workforce policy and practice on behalf of the NHS.

Danny has a degree in politics from York University and first worked in healthcare as a porter, and a CSV care assistant before becoming a regional trainee in Stoke-on-Trent. He then worked at the Royal United Hospital, Bath, and Brighton Health Care. His first director post was for Royal West Sussex NHS Trust and Western Sussex PCT from 2001.

He subsequently (2003) became director of HR and organisational development at East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust. He joined Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust as executive director of HR in 2007, and he became its executive director of workforce and strategy in 2009.

Danny is a chartered fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Sean Duggan, Chief Executive, Mental Health Network

Sean Duggan joined the Mental Health Network as Chief Executive in November 2016. Sean is passionate about raising standards of care and treatment of mental health services and improving lives of those who use services and their carers. His focus is on influencing politicians, policy makers and heads of public sector organisations and other key stakeholders to deliver evidence based intervention with a sound economic basis.

Previously, Sean joined the Centre for Mental Health as director of Criminal Justice Programme in 2006, and became Chief Executive in 2011. Immediately before joining the Centre, Sean was Director of Health and Social Care for Criminal Justice at the London Development Centre and offender health consultant for the Department of Health. He trained as a registered mental health nurse in Sussex, where he also held his first NHS Board Director’s post.

Sean is a founder member of the Mental Health Policy Group and has expertise in forensic psychology and criminal justice.

Heather Moorhead, Director, Northern Ireland Confederation for Health and Social Care

Heather joined us from the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (a membership body) where she was the chief executive responsible for setting the strategic direction of the organisation to support and facilitate local government improvement and modernisation.

Previous to this, Heather was director of the Sustainable Northern Ireland Programme where she was responsible for developing the organisation which provided advice and guidance to government departments on sustainable development issues.

Heather’s earlier career was spent in the field of Environmental Health and she held positions across various specialism’s including health and safety, consumer protection, training and health promotion.

Heather is a member of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and the NI Chief Executives Forum.

Julie Wood, Chief Executive, NHS Clinical Commissioners (NHSCC)

Julie Wood is the director of NHSCC and as such works with the NHSCC co-chairs to lead NHS Clinical Commissioners. As part of this national role, she is involved in working at the centre of detailed policy development and implementation with the Department of Health, NHS England and the other main national organisations ensuring that the independent collective voice of CCGs is heard.

She combines her role with NHSCC with a small amount of healthcare policy consultancy activities, supporting commissioning and innovation with local health communities and national/international healthcare-related organisations.

Julie’s NHS career spans 30 years, focused on service development and innovation in primary care and commissioning, with the last 16 years at director/chief executive levels within Health Authorities, PCG/Ts.

She has had many articles published and most recently has published work with the Kings Fund and the Nuffield Trust with the NHS Alliance on Clinical commissioning and Improving the quality of commissioning of primary care.

Darren Hughes, Director, Welsh NHS Confederation

Darren was appointed as Director of The Welsh NHS Confederation in June 2016 from his role as Director for Wales at the General Pharmaceutical Council, a position he held since 2012. 

Darren joins the Welsh Confed with a wealth of experience having previously held a senior role at the General Medical Council in Wales. His career to date has meant he has worked extensively with the NHS, healthcare professionals, Government and the National Assembly.

He has also conducted research at Cardiff University looking at how organisations can work to campaign for legislative change.


Rohan Hewavisenti, Director of Finance and Corporate Services

Rohan Hewavisenti, director of finance and corporate services is a chartered accountant. He has worked in the not-for-profit sector for over 20 years and has been the chief finance officer in a range of organisations including British Red Cross, RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind people) and Breast Cancer Care. He is currently serving on the board of and treasurer at the Institute of Fundraising. Previous non-executive roles include chair of finance and performance committee at Hammersmith  Fulham Clinical Commissioning Group, trustee at East Living, social care subsidiary at a housing association and trustee of CFG (Charity Finance Group).

Layla McCay, Director of International Relations

Dr Layla McCay joined the NHS Confederation as Director of International Relations in May 2018 following a medical career and a decade of leadership roles in international public health and health systems policy.

After obtaining her medical degree at the University of Glasgow, Layla trained as a psychiatrist at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, where she later also sat on the Trust Board.

She first moved into national health policy as Clinical Advisor to the NHS Medical Director at the Department of Health. Layla went on to earn a Masters degree in Health Policy, Planning and Financing from LSE and LSHTM and took up the role of Assistant Medical Director at healthcare company Bupa. From there, Layla moved into international public health and health systems.

She has held international roles at the World Health Organisation, the World Bank, and at several global health NGOs, think tanks and universities based in Washington, Tokyo, Hong Kong and London, with teams across Africa and Asia. She has held academic positions at Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Hong Kong University, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and at TED.

Layla is founder of the Centre for Urban Design and Mental Health, is an Asia Global Fellow, and has written on health issues for a diversity of international publications from The Lancet, to New Statesman, National Geographic, and South China Morning Post.

Daniel Reynolds, Director of Communications

Daniel Reynolds joined the NHS Confederation in December 2018. He leads a team that is responsible for internal and external communications as well as membership engagement and insight. 

Daniel is a former journalist and now communications director with 20 years’ experience of working in high profile national organisations, including think tanks and membership bodies. He began his career as a news reporter on a local newspaper before joining Sky as a news reporter. He then joined the independent health think tank The King’s Fund, where he eventually became deputy director of communications before taking up the role of director of communications at another think tank, the Nuffield Trust. After seven years he left to become director of communications at NHS Providers before joining the NHS Confederation.

Daniel also plays a key role in supporting the development of the NHS communications profession by sitting on the NHS England/Improvement communications development board and lecturing on NHS England/Improvement’s post-graduate diploma in healthcare communications. 

Joan Saddler,  Director of Partnerships and Equality

Joan is director of partnerships and equality at the NHS Confederation leading work around inclusive engagement and equality and diversity. She was formerly national director of patient and public affairs based within the patient and public engagement and experience division at the Department of Health and Social Care. Areas of responsibility included NHS and 3rd sector liaison, complaints, local involvement networks (LINks) and transition to Healthwatch.

As a former primary care trust chair and mental health trust non executive, Joan also brings a system wide governance lens to her work along with her experience as a chief executive within the community and voluntary sector. Joan was awarded an OBE for services to health and diversity in 2007. Her experience informs her role working with the chief executive of NHS England as co-chair of the national NHS Equality and Diversity Council.

Nick Ville, Director of Membership and Policy

Nick Ville is director of membership and policy for the NHS Confederation. He is responsible for the Confederation’s national policy work and regional support service for members. Nick has worked in a number of national senior health and public policy roles in the NHS, central government and national regulators. Before joining the Confederation, Nick was policy director at Monitor/NHS Improvement where he led work on a number of areas including how to close the NHS funding gap, the government’s response to the Francis report and the Five Year Forward View. Nick also served on the board of NHS London supporting the development of a new health strategy for London and was a director in the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit where he led work to improve services for problem drug users and improve the operation of the criminal justice system.

Why Register?

Great reasons to register with NHS Confederation

  • Access exclusive resources¬†
    Access member-only resources and tailor member benefits and services
  • Personalise your website
    Select topics of interest for recommended content
  • Comment and recommend
    Rate and share content with colleagues
  • Never miss a thing
    Register now to keep your finger on the pulse of the NHS Confederation

Log In