Appointment of Three Non-Executive Directors to the Public Health Agency

Date published: 30 April 2018

The Department of Health today announced the appointment of three non-executive Directors to the Public Health Agency. Professor Nichola Rooney and Mr Joseph Stewart were appointed as Lay Members and Mr John Patrick Clayton was appointed as a Trade Union Representative Member. Prof Rooney’s and Mr Clayton’s appointments began on 10 April 2018 and Mr Stewart’s on 18 April 2018. Each appointment is for a maximum period of four years.

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The appointments carry a time commitment of 5 days per month and attract an annual remuneration of £9,004.

The Public Health Agency (PHA) is a multi-disciplinary, multi-professional body, with a strong regional and local presence. The Agency was established to provide a renewed and enhanced focus on public health and wellbeing by bringing together a wide range of public health functions under one organisation. It is required to create better inter-sectoral working, including enhanced partnership with local government, to tackle the underlying causes of poor health and reduce health inequalities.

The PHA is managed directly by a board of directors which has corporate responsibility for its operation. The board of the PHA is made up of four Executive Directors including the Chief Executive, a non-executive Chair and seven non-executive Directors. The non-executive Directors include a Member from a social care background; a Trade Union Representative Member, two Local Government Representative Members, one Financial Member and two Lay Members.

Notes to editors: 

All appointments are made in accordance with the Code of Practice issued by the Commissioner for Public Appointments for NI.

All appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process. However, the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland requires the political activity of appointees to be published. All appointees declared that they had not engaged in any political activity.

Prof Nichola Rooney is a consultant clinical psychologist and former Head of Psychological Services at the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust. She is current Chair of the British Psychological Society NI and previous Chair of the Division of Clinical Psychology, NI. Nichola is a Senior Professional Advisor to the RQIA and Associate Consultant with HSC Leadership Centre. She holds the position of honorary Professor at the School of Psychology at QUB. Nichola is a former Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commissioner and Independent Assessor for Public Appointments. As Chair of the Children’s Heartbeat Trust, she continues to work to improve services for children with congenital heart disease and their families.

Mr John Patrick Clayton is the Policy Officer with UNISON Northern Ireland.  John Patrick graduated in LLB Law from Queen’s University Belfast in 2007, before qualifying as a Barrister in 2008 and practising in both Ireland and Northern Ireland.  Since 2011, he has worked in policy roles for the Committee on the Administration of Justice and Children’s Law Centre, with a particular focus on encouraging the development of policy which furthers human rights and which promotes equality of opportunity.  Since joining UNISON, John Patrick has led for the union on policy development relating to public health and the reform of the health and social care system, with a particular focus on the Expert Panel report ‘Systems not Structures – Changing Health and Social Care’ and the Department of Health vision flowing from this ‘Health and Wellbeing 2026 – Delivering Together’.  John Patrick acts as the trade union representative on behalf of the Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions on the Transformation Advisory Board established to oversee the ongoing transformation process within the health and social care system and provide independent advice.

Mr Joseph Stewart has held number of Board level positions in the public and private sectors in Northern Ireland having retired in 2016 as Director of Human Resources from PSNI, a post which he held from the inception of the Service in 2001. Having graduated in law from Queens University Belfast Joe started his working career in the Engineering Employers Federation NI Association being appointed Director in 1985. In 1990 he was appointed to the Board of Harland and Wolff Shipbuilding and Heavy Industries as Personnel Director a position which he relinquished in 1995 to take up appointment as Chief Executive of the Police Authority for Northern Ireland. Joe has had a lifelong interest in employee relations and has taken a close interest in occupational health safety and welfare in each of these positions. A Fellow of both the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and the Chartered Institute of Management Joe was appointed OBE in 1994 for public service.

For media enquiries please contact DoH Press Office on 028 9052 0579 or email For out of office please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623 974383. Follow us on twitter @healthdpt

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