Our group chief executive, Alwen Williams, is today recognised for her inspiring leadership in the NHS by being made a Dame in the New Year Honours.
Already recognised as one of the top 50 leaders within the health service, this wider award coincides with a notable career landmark as Alwen celebrates 40 years as an NHS manager this year.
The official citation pays particular tribute to her achievement in transforming Barts Health since taking the helm of the trust five years ago.
“Alwen Williams has demonstrated outstanding leadership in the NHS over a 40 year career, working tirelessly to improve healthcare for east London,” it said.
“Operating from four main hospital sites, Barts Health is one of the largest acute hospital groups in the country, serving a diverse and economically challenged population of 2.5 million.
“When she took over Barts Health in 2015 the trust was in special measures following regulatory criticism. She has since transformed it into a well-led, financially sustainable organisation, with the majority of services now rated good or outstanding.”
Alwen said she was surprised and delighted to accept the honour, but insisted it was recognition of what staff here had achieved.
“I could not have done anything without the support of great senior leaders and the commitment and dedication of our fantastic staff. Thank you to everyone who kept faith with us on our continuing improvement journey,” she said.
Ian Peters, chair of Barts Health NHS Trust, said: “Alwen has made an outstanding contribution to east London healthcare over many years – and she is continuing to lead our transformation in patient outcomes and experience.
“She has put together the team that is stabilising our finances and shaping our future at the heart of integrated care for our diverse communities.”
He added: “Alwen leads with humility and quiet tenacity, and is extraordinarily resilient. She also has a rare ability to inspire and influence people from receptionists to surgeons. Her commitment to care, for our patients and our people, is embodied in how she personally lives our values. This has shone through most recently during the pandemic. It is a privilege to work alongside her.”
Alwen was previously recognised in the 2009 Queen’s Birthday Honours with a CBE. At the time she was chief executive of Tower Hamlets Primary Care Trust (PCT), and was seconded to run an alliance of all the PCTs in east London. This role expanded and within a few years she was in charge of the whole of the NHS across east London, eventually being appointed in 2013 as national director of delivery and development for the NHS Trust Development Authority.
On 1 June 2015, Alwen moved to Barts Health NHS Trust as interim chief executive, and became substantive chief executive on 21 October 2015. As a long-standing east London resident she is proud that her son was born at St Bartholomew’s and her daughter at Whipps Cross.
Although Alwen was brought up in the west Midlands, her first language was Welsh, and she has spoken of how her paternal grandmother was in service and her maternal grandfather a blacksmith.