GMMH announces appointment of new Chief Executive | Press Releases

GMMH announces appointment of new Chief Executive

A new Chief Executive has been appointed Chief Executive at Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH) to lead the organisation at this pivotal time.

Karen Howell OBE will join GMMH in June 2024, from Wirral Community Health & Care NHS Foundation Trust, following a career spanning almost 45 years in the NHS.

Karen is a registered nurse and was awarded an OBE in 2023 for services to health care, having made major contributions to the NHS, including leading large and complex organisations across acute, secondary, community mental health and primary care services.

Tony Warne, Chair at GMMH, said:

“Karen will be brilliant for us and, together, we will take forward our improvement journey at pace. She brings oodles of experience, and is committed to collaboration with service users, their families, and communities, in pursuit of providing high quality services and promoting pride amongst colleagues.

“Her background, the understanding she has of us and the work we need to do, and the way she showed she’ll collaborate with people to drive us towards a shared success impressed me, and those she met through the process.

“We’re excited she’ll join us at such a key period as we build on our strengths and learn from the challenges of the last couple of years to create an organisation that is both a great place for colleagues to work, and provides outstanding mental health and addiction support for those we serve.”


Karen said:

“It is a privilege to be appointed as Chief Executive of Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust.

“As an experienced leader in the NHS, I am proud to have the responsibility to lead and support the Trust and its workforce to respond to the recommendations of the independent review and support the organisation to excel in the quality of care it offers to the diverse populations it serves.

“The challenges ahead are matched with opportunity to make the most of Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust’s considerable strengths and foster a new pride and ambition for the people of Greater Manchester.

“I look forward to working with the Board of Directors, staff, service users and partners to hone a clear vision and ambition, in which the Trust will be recognised as a provider of high-quality outcome focused services and a high-performing and inclusive employer.”


Karen has a strong and successful track record in leading and transforming mental health services having previously worked in leadership positions across Cheshire & Merseyside and across NHS Wales.

Karen has led and delivered change in national policy for mental health and community services. More recently she has been working with NHS England as National CEO Advisor on community services. 

Throughout her career Karen has worked at local, national and international level advising independent health and care providers across Great Britain and Europe.

She is a highly experienced and respected NHS leader who continues to support the NHS and its workforce with great determination and passion. Interestingly, Karen jointly led the Wirral COVID response to the first repatriation of UK citizens from Wuhan in early 2020.

GMMH’s Interim Chief Executive Jan Ditheridge will continue to lead GMMH at this key point in the improvement journey, to ensure momentum continues, and facilitate a smooth handover to Karen.

As a patient

As a service user, relative or carer using our services, sometimes you may need to turn to someone for help, advice, and support. 

Find resources for carers and service users  Contact the Trust

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