New chairs for Trust’s strategic lay forum

Shanaka Dias and Ed Lowther will take over as co-chairs of Imperial College Healthcare’s strategic lay forum on 1 January 2024, as Trish Longdon stepped down after four years as chair and a previous six as a lay partner. 

The strategic lay forum is at the heart of patient and public involvement at the Trust, setting and championing a clear vision and ensuring all key developments meet the needs and views of our diverse local communities and patient groups. It was established in November 2015, meets every six weeks and consists of up to 20 lay partners, senior Trust staff and patient and public involvement leads at Imperial College London and Imperial Health Charity. Overall, 34 lay partners are currently involved in 38 projects across the Trust. The forum’s chairs are nominated by – and from within - the current membership and agreed by the Trust’s director of engagement and experience and director of governance. 

Professor Tim Orchard, chief executive of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust said: “We benefit hugely from the expertise and experience of our growing pool of lay partners and patient representatives. The strategic lay forum, in particular, has played a key role in evolving our organisational culture, helping us to become much more focused on understanding and meeting the needs of our patients and local communities. 

"Trish has contributed hugely to this and her energy, determination and focus will be greatly missed. But she leaves behind a strategic lay forum that is stronger and more influential than ever – with a fantastic new leadership in Shanaka and Ed. I’m looking forward to building our partnership even further over the coming months and years.”

Trish has developed the forum as an increasingly influential and valued voice within the Trust and beyond, identifying issues that matters most to patients and local people and often staff too. The forum now works with the Trust’s senior leadership team to inform annual priorities and planning as well as ensuring lay representation on all major projects. Trish was a key contributor to the Trust's Covid-19 response, taking part in daily meetings with clinicians and others to help ensure policies and decisions reflected the needs of patients and their families. She was awarded an MBE for services to health and social care in the Birthday Honours earlier this year. Before Trish retired, she held senior positions in the public and voluntary sectors, including serving as deputy parliamentary and health Service Ombudsman. 

Shanaka and Ed have both been involved with the Trust since 2017, including as members of the strategic lay forum since 2019. Shanaka currently works with charities and social businesses, supporting their governance and improving their use of data and analytics. Prior to this, he worked as a consultant on IT and data projects. Ed is a senior manager at a consultancy firm, where he focuses on workforce practice. Previously, his career spanned business support and consultancy across both the private and public sectors.