Willis Commission on Nursing Education biographies

Lord Willis of Knaresborough (Chair)

After his retirement from the House of Commons in May 2010, Phil Willis was made Lord Willis of Knaresborough, and has been an active Member of the House of Lords ever since. He currently serves on the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology and contributed to numerous debates on the Health and Social Care Act, where he focused largely on the absence of provision for medical research in the legislation. He lists ‘health’ as one of his key political interests.

Phil Willis joined the Liberal Party in 1985 and was elected to Harrogate Borough Council in 1988. He became leader of the Council in 1990 and following his election to North Yorkshire County Council in 1993 became Deputy Group Leader. Whilst an MP, Phil Willis held numerous positions, including Shadow Minister for Higher and Further Education and Shadow Secretary of State for Education and Skills.

He was first appointed Chairman of the Science and Technology Select Committee in 2005. In November 2007, the Science and Technology Select Committee was disbanded and the Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Select Committee was formed; he was elected chairman soon after. In summer 2009 after a departmental reshuffle the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills was disbanded, along with its corresponding Select Committee. Following a hard-fought campaign by Phil Willis and leading members of the Science community, the Science and Technology Select Committee was re-created on 1 October, with him elected as chairman.

In addition to his work in the Committee, in 2007, he chaired the Joint Committee on the Draft Human Tissue and Embryos Bill, scrutinising the proposed legislation to regulate some highly controversial areas, including the use of human embryos for medical research. This led to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, which was passed in 2008.

Phil Willis spent 34 years in schools prior to entering Parliament in 1997, with 20 years spent as the head teacher of two large urban comprehensives in challenging communities in Leeds and Middlesbrough. During this time, he became nationally recognised for the inclusion of children with severe learning difficulties and others with sensory impairments into mainstream education. Prior to his election to Westminster he was involved with another pioneering development – ‘The family of Schools’ initiative – which brought together all agencies concerned with developing first class opportunities for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. He remains a regular writer and speaker on educational change.

He has extensive interests in the charitable sector having been recently elected Chair of the eLearning Foundation, the Association of Medical Charities, President of Yorkshire Disability Association and of the AoC Charitable Trust.

Panel members

Dr Subo Shanmuganathan, Head of Learning and Development, Macmillan Cancer Support

Subo is currently the Head of Learning and Development at Macmillan Cancer Support, and leads on the education and training of the cancer workforce. She is a trained senior leadership coach and mentor, and a Fellow of the Higher Education Council.

Dr Glynis Henry, Chief Executive, Northern Ireland Practice and Education Council for Nursing and Midwifery

Glynis was appointed Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Practice and Education Council for Nursing and Midwifery [NIPEC] in 2011. She was previously Assistant Director for Nursing Workforce Development and Training at the Southern HSC Trust.

Professor Margaret Smith Dean, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Dundee University

Margaret’s commitment to the educational development of nursing standards was recognised by Glasgow University, which awarded her an honorary professorship in 2006. A registered nurse and midwife with a Masters of Business Administration, Margaret has worked closely with universities to achieve excellence in education, practice and research. She has a strong network of alliances and external relationships in clinical, management and nursing education circles in Scotland and the UK.

Veronica Snow, Programme Lead for the Wales Palliative Care Implementation Board

Veronica is Programme Lead for the Wales Palliative Care Implementation Board, based in the Velindre Cancer Centre, Whitchurch, Cardiff.

Jill Evans, Senior Education & Development Manager, Aneurin Bevan Health Board

Jill has a special responsibility for issues relating to diversity and access to services.

Sharon Northeast, Disability Consultant

Sharon is a disability assessor and consultant, and service user with a 20-year history of multiple sclerosis.

Sheila Dilks, Executive Director of Transformation, Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield District Cluster

Sheila has worked in NHS Kirklees for five years as Director of Patient Care and Professions, and led the redesign and commissioning of services for people with long-term conditions. Sheila joined Kirklees from the Department of Health, where she was a professional adviser for the commissioning directorate, responsible for bringing a clinical perspective to a range of policies across primary care.

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