Executive Directors

Our Executive Directors manage the day-to-day operational and financial performance of the Royal Devon. The following people are voting Executive Directors:

Sam Higginson

Chief Executive Officer

Sam Higginson

Sam joined the Royal Devon as Chief Executive Officer in January 2024. Sam brings extensive experience to the role, having worked in and around the NHS for the last 20 years across strategy, finance and operational roles. Most recently, Sam supported the national work on elective recovery and was chief executive at Norfolk and Norwich University NHS Foundation Trust from 2019-2023.

Professor Adrian Harris

Chief Medical Officer

Professor Adrian Harris

Adrian has been the Chief Medical Officer since April 2015 having been appointed as a Consultant Emergency Physician at the RD&E in February 1996.  He studied medicine at the Royal Free Hospital and graduated in 1986.  Prior to this appointment, Adrian served as Associate Medical Director for the Surgical Services Division and previously held the role of Director of the Emergency Department of the RD&E, for 12 years during which time he directed the Emergency Department of NDHT for two years. Adrian has seen healthcare from both a primary and secondary care perspective, having originally trained as a GP before moving into the field of Emergency Medicine, training at St Marys Hospital in London, University Hospital Southampton and Sir Charles Gardiner Hospital in Western Australia .  Adrian has a keen interest in the opportunities provided by digital and led the introduction of Epic, our comprehensive Electronic Patient Record, across all of our sites.  He has transformation and research in his portfolio. 

Adrian undertook the one year NHS Leadership Academy, Executive Fast Track Programme in 2014 and has previously sat on the Council of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine.  He is an honorary associate professor in healthcare leadership and management at the University of Exeter Medical School.

Chris Tidman

Deputy Chief Executive Officer

Chris Tidman

Chris joined the former Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust as chief financial officer in September 2017, having worked in a number of senior NHS roles in the West Midlands across Acute, Mental Health and Commissioning sectors and as director of delivery and Improvement for NHS Improvement. Chris was appointed deputy chief executive officer for the Royal Devon in January 2021. Chris took his first CFO position in 2005 at South Birmingham Primary Care Trust before joining Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust as director of resources and leading them to FT status in 2008. Chris joined Worcestershire Acute in 2011 as director of resources / deputy CEO.

Chris has taken on strategic change projects, including major PFI hospital moves, EPR and IT change programmes, and developing strategic clinical partnerships with neighbouring providers. Chris has been part of the NHS Top Leaders programme and was also HFMA Chair for the West Midlands in 2015.

Hannah Foster

Chief People Officer

Hannah Foster

Hannah joined the Trust in August 2019, coming to the NHS from Flybe, the Exeter-based airline, where she was director of people. Prior to her Flybe role, Hannah also held top strategic posts for the Church of England and global educational provider Pearson, helping both organisations develop key culture and organisational growth programmes. As well as strategic and business acumen, Hannah brings a strong voluntary and charitable ethos to the Royal Devon.

Carolyn Mills

Chief Nursing Officer

Carolyn Mills

Carolyn joined the Trust as Chief Nursing Officer in January 2021. Carolyn is an experienced nurse whose career in the NHS spans over 30 years, including working in the acute, community and academic sectors. Previous to joining the Royal Devon, Carolyn worked for Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Trust, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in Assistant Chief Nurse positions and was Director of Nursing at NDHT between 2005 and 2014.

From 2014 to 2021, Carolyn was Chief Nurse at University Hospitals Bristol & Weston NHS Foundation Trust, where she had experience of merging together University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust and Weston Area HealthTrust.

Angela Hibbard

Chief Finance Officer

Angela Hibbard

Angela joined the NHS in 2003 following a number of years in the private sector. Angela has held a variety of accounting and financial leadership roles across provider, commissioner and regulator organisations gaining a wealth of experience across the sector and qualifying as a chartered management accountant along the way. Angela moved to the former Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust as director of finance in 2018 and was appointed as Chief Finance Officer for the Royal Devon in January 2021.

John Palmer

Chief Operating Officer

John Palmer

John’s extensive public sector career spans nearly 25 years and includes executive roles in healthcare, local government, the senior civil service and management consultancy. Before being appointed Deputy Group Chief Executive and Site Chief Executive (Denmark Hill) at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, John was the Chief Operating Officer of Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, overseeing the delivery of primary, community, hospital and mental health services to 450,000 people across the South Wales Valleys. Prior to this, John worked in a series of national roles in the Cabinet Office, Welsh Government and NHS Wales, having started his career in the Royal Brompton Hospital and then local government in Hertfordshire and Monmouthshire. Most recently, John has been the Silver Commander for North West Anglia Foundation Trust through the COVID-19 second wave. John joined the Royal Devon as interim Chief Operating Officer in April 2021, before being appointed as Chief Operating Officer in July 2021.

Last updated: May 01, 2024.

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