Staff

Meet the team

Diana Blackmun

Diana is the Chief Executive Officer of Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire

Diana began her career working for the Civil Service at The Patent Office in London. Before progressing to the General Medical Council, she worked within a team interviewing foreign doctors and processing applications to qualify for work in the UK.

Since moving out of London into the Shire Counties, Diana worked for both large and small organisations before starting work in the political office of Bedfordshire County Council working directly for the Leader of the Council and Executive Members.

Diana then progressed to Adult Social Care to work more closely with service users and the public and to pursue her degree in Social Sciences with Social Policy.

In her more recent role working for Central Bedfordshire Council, Diana led on Customer Engagement for a procurement project which won the Government Opportunities Best Customer Engagement Initiative of the Year Award in March 2012. Diana was also the recipient of the 2012 Employee of the Year Award given by the Social Care, Health & Housing Directorate of Central Bedfordshire Council in December 2012.

Diana is a keen volunteer and her work includes volunteering at a local hospice and with local youth groups. Diana is passionate about customer engagement, involving customers in the provision and delivery of health and social care; to have their say and drive up quality.

Meet the team

Debbie Hull

Debbie is the Digital Communications Officer

Debbie has over 10 years’ experience in marketing and communications within the mental healthcare sector. She has a passion for creative design and was the lead designer at Partnerships in Care, an independent mental healthcare provider, for a 20 strong in-house marketing and sales team with 70+ hospitals requiring rapid turnaround of designs for both external and internal communications.

As Relationship Manager and Marketing & Communications Manager at Nouvita Healthcare, Debbie was responsible for the communication to NHS Commissioners and Case Managers to announce the opening of a new Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). This resulted in the service running at 90% occupancy within 6 weeks of opening.

Debbie’s empathy and caring nature now leads her to Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire, where she wants to encourage customer engagement on health and social care provision. As a former carer for her late husband, who had mental and physical health needs, she is passionate about helping to influence change and improve the quality of health and social care within our community.

Meet the team

Alison Newnham

Alison is the Database and Office Administrator

Alison has many years’ experience being an administrator. During her varied career she has worked in banks, schools both primary and secondary, interactive games and most recently for a charity working with students and graduates, developing internal processes to ensure a smooth run office.

She has knowledge of planning and implementing large scale events which will be additionally utilised to support the team.

Alison is an active volunteer with the Good Neighbourhood Scheme run in her village, as well as a member of GirlGuiding for over 40 years.

She looks forward to promoting Healthwatch in her local area and more widely throughout Central Bedfordshire, engaging with the general public to ensure that everyone has the best access to health and social care they both need and want.

Kim Claydon

Kim Claydon

Kim is the Database and Office Administrator

Kim has over 20 years’ experience in administration within the corporate and not for profit sectors, working widely in county council, facilities management, information security, recruitment companies and more recently at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

Kim has a passion for nature, gardening and mental health, and looks forward to supporting and promoting Healthwatch within Central Bedfordshire and being a part of a supportive environment for people to have access to better health.

Meet the team

Anna Bailie

Anna is the Youth Engagement and Volunteer Officer

Anna is currently a PhD Student at the University of York working with young adults, mental health experts and charity and local organisations who work with young people. Her thesis looks at the political project of young adult’s mental health and social media. She was a recipient of the White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership Scholarship in 2018 (ESRC 1+3).

As a specialist in mental health, young adults and technology she works with the World Health Organization (European Office) on the Mental Health and Well-Being of Children, Adolescents and Youth working package. She also has supported them as a Youth Participation Consultant, panellist and co-lead for youth events. The impact of her work extends into her role as social media manager and researcher in residence for the All Things Mental Health podcast.

Anna believes that health is a social cause, and everyone should have access to the right support when they need it. This commitment to the improvement of health services and information about health has fuelled her passion for her work. As the Youth Engagement and Volunteer Officer, with Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire, she hopes to empower others to do the same and feel as though they are contributing something good to the world. She aims to create a supportive and interactive environment for people to get involved in promoting and maintaining better health for everyone.

Nicola Kidby

Nicola Kidby

Nicola is the Finance Officer

Having volunteered with HWCB for 8 years, Nicola joined the team in February 2024 to oversee all our financial matters.

She qualified as a Management Accountant in 2000 and worked widely for management consultancy and retail companies.

Nicola is a carer for her disabled children and volunteers locally for disability charities including as a Trustee for Carers in Bedfordshire.

Annette Brown

Annette Brown

Annette is the Project Lead

Annette is the newly appointed Project Lead for HWCB. Some of you may recognise her as the previous Engagement & Volunteer Officer for HWCB. 

With funding from the BLMK ICB Health Inequalities budget, Annette’s new role is to ensure delivery, against the recommendations as detailed on the Denny Review that we undertook with the ICB and other local Healthwatch in 2022 / 2023.  (see link to HWCB report). 

Annette’s particular focus across Central Bedfordshire will be on developing Patient Participation Groups, researching current translation and interpretation services and facilitation of health events. 

Board

Meet the team

Gill Hiscox

Gill is Chair and a Director of Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire

Gill has a wealth of experience and local knowledge about health care systems and providers. She has worked within the NHS in Bedfordshire for over 50 years, initially in Human Resources with the local Health Authority, and then moved into Primary Care where she has been for the last 25 years.

Gill was elected South Bedfordshire Trust Board member of the Luton and Dunstable Hospital and has been a member for four years. Gill is also a local Parish Councillor in Central Bedfordshire.

Gill was responsible for setting up the first Patient Participation Group (PPG) in Bedfordshire which won a National Award for its patient involvement. As part of her current role Gill is currently involved in discussions around GP Federations and all the potential changes that will hopefully drive the NHS forward.

Gill is passionate about hearing and listening to the patient voice and recently took on the role of Chair of the West Mid Beds Locality Patient Participation Group. Gill has also found time to manage a local Girl Guide Unit for the past 30 years in her local community.

Meet the team

Linda Grant

Linda is a Director of Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire and Vice Chair

Linda has been a Volunteer and Director of Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire since 2013 and in 2023 she became Vice Chair. She joined as she was very disillusioned with the Mental Health service in Central Bedfordshire and wanted to make a difference. Linda is a champion for Mental Health.

Since joining Linda has assisted with setting up Minds2gether in Dunstable and the Lighthouse in Leighton Buzzard which are mental health support groups managed by service users. She is committed to ensure our NHS provides the best patient care.

Linda is involved in HWCB’s Enter and View programme in which we visit Care Homes, GP surgeries and hospital wards, to find out how they are being run and to make recommendations where there are areas for improvement.

During the pandemic Linda worked for the Office of National Statistics in the community. This involved meeting the residents of Central Bedfordshire on a daily basis, swabbing and collecting blood as part of their survey to monitor the spread of Covid-19. Whilst doing this she was able to help patients with many queries and problems they had.

As a Healthwatch Director, Linda sits on several committees and ensures the voice of local people is heard. She also gets involved with the procurement of different services within the NHS.

Meet the team

Carol Carter

Carol is a Director of Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire

Carol is an existing volunteer with HWCB and has worked in local government for 37 years; the majority of that time as a Town Clerk at Flitwick. Prior to working in the public sector, Carol held two posts that related to marketing and is also trained in Prince 2 Project Management.

Carol is currently secretary of the Flitwick and District Branch of the Royal British Legion, a general volunteer for The Place Theatre in Bedford, a Parish Councillor for Marston Moretaine and an Independent Visitor for a child in care.

Carol has an excellent knowledge of accounting and still carries out internal audits. Having previously managed over 20 staff Carol has vast experience of mentoring and appraising staff. In her role as volunteer with HWCB Carol has undertaken training to be a representative of HWCB’s ‘Enter & View’ team and also received training to help promote HWCB, giving presentations to local community groups.

Carol’s years of experience working in the Local Government sector and skills liaising with other organisations, including gaining support and funding for a variety of activities such as setting up a community centre, starting a dementia club and a youth council, greatly benefits the work of Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire.

Meet the team

Louise Cole

Louise is a Director of Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire

Louise began her career as a physiotherapist but following a serious car accident at the age of 19, which left her with a life changing disability, her career path altered and Louise started working in insurance where she managed a large insurance company in Bedfordshire.  However, as her disability worsened, she needed to change her career once again and started her NHS journey 10 years ago.

Louise is currently a Business Manager and Primary Care Network Manager for a local GP surgery in Central Bedfordshire.  As part of her role Louise leads a large team of healthcare professionals and supports the patient population area of both Dunstable and Luton.

Louise has completed her Medical Secretary Diploma, HealthCare Management Diploma, Cert of MBE in Management, and is now working towards her final stages of MBE and Degree in Partnership, Directorship and Management, and does not plan to stop there.

Louise has a passion for health and wellbeing. She is well connected within the Primary Care industry and works with a large healthcare team providing a high standard of care to over 50,000 patients within Central Bedfordshire

Louise is very supportive of those around her and likes nothing better than helping people to succeed in their lives.

Meet the team

Vanessa Filmer

Vanessa is a Director of Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire

Vanessa is a regional quality manager for a large private mental health provider with a deep-rooted passion for enhancing care services.

Vanessa started her career as a GP receptionist in Barton-le-Clay. The front-line experience allowed Vanessa to witness the challenges and complexities patients and healthcare providers face.

Transitioning to Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, this role equipped Vanessa with a deep understanding of the inner workings of the NHS, including the intricacies of Commissioning and the importance of effective collaboration between stakeholders.

In recent years, Vanessa has worked in the private mental health sector, working her way up to the position of Regional Quality Manager, where she spearheaded initiatives to ensure the highest standards of care and compliance across multiple facilities. Her in-depth knowledge of CQC requirements and Health and Social Care Act legislation has been instrumental in driving operational excellence and fostering a culture of continuous improvement.

Vanessa is committed to amplifying the voices of individuals and communities, ensuring their concerns and experiences are heard and acted upon.