Our Commissioners

Our Commission brings together five individuals with deep knowledge of the health and care system. They are:


Sir Thomas Hughes-Hallett


Tom Hughes-Hallett

Sir Thomas Hughes-Hallett is the Chair of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College, London. A trustee for the King's Fund, he’s a former Chief Executive of Marie Cure Cancer Care and has led a number of independent reviews into health and social care issues.

After 22 years in banking, Tom joined Marie Curie Cancer Care in 2000. In 2010 and 2011 he chaired an independent Philanthropy Review, a collaboration of voluntary and private sector bodies which looked to identify ways of achieving a step-change in charitable giving in the UK. He serves on the Kings Fund General Advisory Council, and has acted as chairman of the End of Life Care Implementation Advisory Board, as review chair for the Palliative Care Funding Review for adults and children in England and as a trustee of Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.

Tom has formerly been chairman of English Churches Housing Group and the Michael Palin Centre for Stammering Children, a director of the National Council for Palliative Care and a Special Trustee of Great Ormond Street Hospital.

He was knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours List 2012.


John Spence CBE


John Spence

John chairs the Essex Community Foundation, the SE Local Enterprise Partnership, the Chelmsford Diocesan Board of Finance and is on the Board of Anglia Ruskin University. He has previously chaired national disability charities such as Action for Blind People and Vitalise.

Prior to 2005, he was a managing director of Lloyds TSB. Other non-executive roles include/ have included HM Revenue & Customs, Spicerhaart and the Church Commissioners.

A Chelmsford resident, he was elected to Essex County Council in May 2013.


Mike Adams OBE


Mike Adams

Mike is currently Chief Executive of ecdp. ecdp is a disabled people’s user-led organisation delivering a range of support services and providing a representative voice for disabled people across the county. The organisation employs over 30 staff and has a turnover this year approaching £1.3m. The organisation has a membership of over 1700 people and 110 volunteers.

At a local level Mike is Chair of the Essex Right to Control Programme Board and has recently been appointed Chair of Healthwatch Essex – both roles actively promoting the Voice of the user.

Mike has recently been Chair of the national Access to Work Expert Advisory Panel which reported to government in January 2013. He is currently a non-executive director of a UK wide private care sector company involved in the delivery of social care.

Mike’s previous working track record includes being one of the senior management team at the Disability Rights Commission, Director of the National Disability Team for higher education and co-director of a disability research centre at Coventry University.


Professor Sheila Salmon


Sheila Salmon

Previously Primary Care Trust and Ambulance Service Chair, Sheila brings a wealth of experience in both commissioning and provision of health services to her strategic role.

Sheila has worked at senior management level in the NHS and University sector. She has represented the Nursing and Midwifery Council on quality and standards visits to British Universities and their partner NHS Trusts and she is currently an Associate of the General Medical Council.  Sheila is Emeritus Professor of Health at Anglia Ruskin University and has considerable experience as a Foundation Trust Governor and Non-Executive Director.  She is also a development consultant, coach and mentor, working regionally, nationally and internationally.


Dr Gary Sweeney


Gary Sweeney

Gary has been a GP in Tendring for 27 years, 25 of those in Pier Ward in Clacton, Essex. Prior to that he spent 8 years in hospital medicine in Anaesthetics, having trained at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London.

Gary has been active in NHS management since 1992 and obtained an MBA in Healthcare Management in 2001. He has been a medical adviser to the North Essex Health Authority and to the North Essex Mental Health Trust. Gary has been active in PCTs since their inception and was Professional Executive Committee Chair in Tendring from 2003-5. He was Chairman of North Essex Local Medical Committee from 2008-11. He was Practice Based Commissioning (PBC) lead for Tendring from 2006, and helped to establish the co-operative working with Colchester PBC group that led to early formation of the North East Essex CCG. He has been a member of the Health and Wellbeing Board since it began in 2011.

He has always been a champion for the improvement of services for Mental Health and led the development of Community Based services for patients with mild to moderate mental health problems in North East Essex.


Commission Secretariat


Dr Paul Probert is seconded to the Commission and has worked in a range of policy roles in both the public and private sectors.

After university at Norwich, Oxford, Hamburg and Bonn, Paul joined Accenture, a global management and IT consultancy, working with banking clients.  In Accenture's Policy and Corporate Affairs function he supported the company's relationship with the World Economic Forum. He joined Essex County Council in 2004.

At Essex County Council, he has undertaken a range of policy roles from Essex’s first Local Area Agreement to the county’s current national Whole Place Community Budget.  Paul is interested in public service reform and is keen to ensure the work of the Commission delivers recommendations that make for a better citizen experience.


Sara Ismay is a Policy and Strategy Officer at Essex County Council and has a strong background in policy analysis and project management.

With 28 years of local government experience, Sara has previously helped develop the framework for our Health Scrutiny function and worked with Councillors for nearly two years on Health Scrutiny issues, including policy research studies looking at delayed discharge from acute hospitals and non-urgent patient transport.

Sara graduated from the Institute of Local Government Studies at the University of Birmingham with an Honours Degree in Public Policymaking and Administration.