Our Executive Team

John Parkes, Managing Director

John is the Managing Director of Arden & GEM and has led the Commissioning Support Unit since its creation in 2013. He has extensive NHS experience, including over 25 years’ as a Chief Executive of commissioning organisations and hospitals in a number of locations across England.

John also brings a unique insight into the challenges facing major reconfigurations, having been a Board Member of the National Independent Reconfiguration Panel established to provide advice to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on disputed or controversial service reconfigurations. He has also been a visiting professor in healthcare management at Northampton University.

Mark Smith, Director of Finance

Mark is responsible for all areas of Arden & GEM’s corporate finance function and ensures that our organisation maintains strong financial controls and grows its customer base. He also leads on the development of our commercial strategy and oversees all partnership activities.

Mark has over 20 years of senior financial leadership experience within healthcare spanning both the NHS and private sector. This includes: Director of Finance LPF for Optum, Chief Finance Officer and Acting Chief Officer roles for North Derbyshire CCG, as well as numerous senior positions within primary care trusts (PCT) and Health Authorities.

Mike Walker, Director of Business Services

Mike provides senior leadership support to customers across all business services including Human Resources (HR), Corporate Governance, Finance and Engagement, Communications and Marketing.

Mike joined Arden & GEM from NHS Nottinghamshire County where he was Director of Workforce and Organisational Development and was host Director of the Nottinghamshire Health and Social Care Workforce Team. During 2012, he was seconded to the NHS Commissioning Board Authority as HR Lead for Commissioning Support Units and Clinical Commissioning Groups. Mike brings a mix of both public and private sector experience with previous roles spanning the Ministry of Defence, GEC and Marconi.

Louise Newcombe, Director of Clinical Services

Louise leads the clinical services directorate which encompasses Continuing Healthcare, Medicines Optimisation, Clinical Governance, Individual Funding Requests and Personal Health Budgets. Louise has a proven track record of improving health outcomes by developing productive relationships between patients, clinicians and management.

Louise has over 25 years’ experience in the NHS, predominantly working as a commissioner. Previously Programme Director for EMPACT, she first joined the NHS as a graduate management trainee. Louise spent a significant part of her career establishing and running Bassetlaw Primary Care Trust and then went on to establish one of the first commissioning support organisations across the East Midlands. 

Wendy Lane, Director of Consultancy Services

Wendy is Consultancy Services Director at AGCSU where she established and leads our multi-award-winning service redesign and transformational change support to commissioners, providers and NHS England. Her role focusses specifically on designing, delivering and embedding change to care models, working practices, health and care systems and cultures.

Wendy has over 28 years’ experience in the health service, where she has held senior management positions in areas covering acute provider operations, commissioning and strategic planning. She has extensive experience of delivering change in health and care services with a particular emphasis on integrating care across multiple settings, provider service reconfiguration programmes and digital transformation initiatives.

Helen Seth, Director of Multi Award Winning Business Intelligence and Provider Management

Helen leads our multi award winning Business Intelligence and Provider Management directorate, delivering the data, analysis, insight and contractual innovation that is integral to providing appropriate, resilient and sustainable health services.

A diagnostic radiographer by background, Helen has over 30 years’ NHS experience in provider and commissioner organisations including service delivery, operations management, corporate strategy and system wide transformation. More recently she was asked to undertake the role of Director of Health and Care Integration as part of the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Better Care Together programme – successfully leading across organisational and professional boundaries. With a wealth of strategic and operational experience, Helen has led a series of CSU service developments to improve data availability, standardise systems and simplify processes.

Martin Charters, ICS Development Lead

Martin is responsible for leading our response to integrated care systems, with a focus on the development of strategic commissioning, board and system leadership development, and population health.

Martin is a chartered accountant with over 25 years’ experience working in and for the NHS.  He has worked with commissioner and provider organisations, as well as NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care, to support and deliver major change programmes.  Martin’s career has been spent in consulting and he has held senior positions in KPMG, Atos, Cap Gemini and most recently as a Partner in BDO LLP.  He is also a non-executive director of a mental health and community trust.

Paul Thefaut, Chief Operating Officer (NHS England and NHS Improvement)

Paul provides strategic leadership across a portfolio of services provided to NHS England and NHS Improvement - as well as being the executive lead for our Procurement directorate and provision of managed services.

With over 20 years’ NHS experience, Paul is a versatile senior leader who’s specialities include financial turnaround/transformation, programme and general management. Throughout his career Paul has held a number of senior operations and finance positions. Prior to joining Arden & GEM he was both Director of Operations and Commercial Director for Midlands and East Specialised Commissioning and prior to joining the NHS held Finance Director positions at Royal Mail and Computer Sciences Corporation.

Nigel Cullumbine, Director of IT (Interim)

Nigel provides strategic leadership for the IT directorate delivering end-to-end services including strategic planning, infrastructure, systems development and user support.

Nigel is a senior leader with experience spanning project/programme management, operational IT management, business intelligence and business development. In addition to over 12 years’ experience in the NHS, his previous positions provide insight from the private sector and local authority. Before joining Arden & GEM Nigel’s roles have included: Chief Information Officer for NHS Anglia CSU and Director of Analytics for NEL CSU.

Paul Davison, Chief Operations Officer (Essex)

Paul delivers strategic leadership across all commissioning support services provided for seven Clinical Commissioning Groups serving the population of Essex.

Essex born and bred, Paul has spent most of his NHS career working with providers and trusts across the county. He is a qualified accountant and has held senior leadership roles in IT, contracts, finance, BI and procurement functions. Before joining Arden & GEM, Paul worked as Director of Transformation and Strategy for North East Essex CCG where he led the Essex CCGs' major IT procurement via the lead provider framework.