Extensions to the Terms of Appointment of the Non-Executive Chair and 3 Non-Executive Directors of the Western Health and Social Care Trust

Date published: 09 March 2018

The Department of Health today announced the Non-Executive appointment of Niall Birthistle, as Chair of the Western Health and Social Care Trust (WHSCT), has been extended for a maximum period of 6 months from 1 April 2018.


This appointment carries a time commitment of 3 days per week and attracts an annual remuneration of £29,716.

The Non-Executive appointments of Stella Cummings, Sally O’Kane, and Joan Doherty to the Western Health and Social Care Trust (WHSCT) Board have also been extended for a maximum period of 6 months from 1 April 2018.

These appointments carry a time commitment of 1 day per week and attract an annual remuneration of £7,960.

The WHSCT is one of five HSC Trusts established in 2007 responsible for the delivery of responsive and effective health and care services and for the ownership and management of hospitals and other establishments and facilities.

Each HSC Trust is managed directly by a Board of Directors which has corporate responsibility for its operation. The Board is made up of five Executive Directors and seven Non-Executive Directors and a Non-Executive Chair. Executive Directors and Non-Executive Directors are full and equal members of the Board.

The appointments are made in accordance with the Code of Practice issued by the Commissioner for Public Appointments for NI. The final decision on the extension of the appointments rested with the Department.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The extensions were made with the approval of the Department of Health. There are no specific qualifications for appointment. 
  2. All appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process however all of those appointed declared no political activity.
  3. Niall Birthistle, Non-Executive Chair worked for Adria Ltd, a large clothing manufacturer based in Strabane as an executive director and was appointed Managing Director until his retirement in 2005. He is a former President of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce and served on the Council of the University of Ulster and on the Northern Ireland Council of The Princes Trust. He was a director of the Northern Ireland Partnership Board and is currently a Trustee of the Playhouse in Derry and a director of School Employer Connections.  He is Non-Executive Chairman of R E Cooke Ltd, an engineering company based in Burton on Trent. Mr Birthistle was a Non-Executive Director of the former Altnagelvin Trust for 2 years prior to the establishment of the Western Health and Social Care Trust and has been a Non- Executive of that board since then. He was appointed Acting Chairman in August 2016.
  4. Stella Cummings, Non-Executive Director, from 1978-2003, worked for Foyle HSS Trust and was Programme Manager for Older People, with the responsibility for the provision of Social Care Service to the over 65 population. In 2007 Mrs. Cummings was elected as a Trustee to the Board of the British Red Cross, became a Vice Chair of the organisation in 2010 and served on this Board as a UK Trustee until her term of office ended in December 2013. Mrs. Cummings is a former Chair of Roe Valley Disability Action Group. In 2015 she was appointed Vice President of Northern Ireland British Red Cross.
  5. Sally O’Kane, Non-Executive Director is a pharmacist by profession and served as Director of Pharmaceutical Services, Western Health and Social Services and as Clinical Director, Altnagelvin Hospital, Pharmacy/HSDU services.

    Ms. O’Kane has served on a number of Pharmacy Committees and chaired the Central Pharmaceutical Advisory Committee for 6 years. In recognition of her service to the Pharmacy profession she was made a Fellow of the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland. Ms. O’Kane was a member of the Western Education and Library Board for 13 years and chaired the Library Committee. She is Vice Chair of the Derry Diocesan Committee, Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) and is a governor of Foyle College.
  6. Joan Doherty, Non-Executive Director, a retired school principal who also managed two companies for the benefit of her students, has served on Altnagelvin Hospital Board prior to being appointed to the Western Health and Social Care Trust. She has also served on a number of other Boards including the North West Regional College, The Independent Monitoring Board and has been involved in a number of Charities. She is an honorary member of a number of organisations. Mrs Doherty was awarded an MBE for her services to the Community.
  7. Media enquiries to DoH Press Office on 02890 520074 or email: pressoffice@health-ni.gov.uk. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 076 9971 5440 and your call will be returned. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt.

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