Scottish Health Council
We are governed by an independent committee known as the Scottish Health Council. Meet our Council members.
The Scottish Health Council reports to the Board of Healthcare Improvement Scotland and provides essential support and strategic direction.
It meets 4 times a year. Minutes from each meeting are forwarded to the Board of Healthcare Improvement Scotland and are published on our website.
Suzanne Dawson, Chair
Suzanne has non-executive director experience in health and education. She was a member of the Scottish Ambulance Service Board for 8 years where she chaired their Clinical Governance Committee. She was Chair of Borders College, leading the Board through a period of transformational change which included a major capital estates project and co-location with Heriot Watt University. She sat as one of the first non-solicitor members on the Law Society of Scotland Council.
Suzanne has spent much of her career in economic development where her focus has been in relationship building, stakeholder engagement and organisational development and has a particular interest in the challenges faced in a rural economy. She is a member of the Board of the Eastgate Theatre & Arts Centre in Peebles and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.
Suzanne also serves as the Vice Chair of the Board of Healthcare Improvement Scotland.
Nicola Hanssen, Vice Chair
Nicola is a Registered Nurse with a BA in Business and Enterprise with over 30 years’ experience in health and social care in both Scotland and Norway. She has worked in a range of third sector organisations and in local authority commissioning, which equipped her with a very practical perspective and insight into how national policies and structures influence how services are delivered to people. She has a particular passion for prevention and early intervention throughout the life course and how factors in the social environment determine access to health services and influence lifestyle choices.
In her former CEO role she led on designing and implementing innovative initiatives to reduce unintentional harms, particularly falls and loneliness, to enable older people to live fulfilling, independent lives. She served for 3 years on the Board of Voluntary Health Scotland where she learned more about the diversity and interconnectedness of the healthcare ecosystem and how valuable and vital this is.
Gina Alexander has spent over 20 years working in and around community and social enterprise sectors related to health, social care and wellbeing.
Growing up with deaf parents, Gina personally witnessed the marginalisation and exclusion faced by individuals with disabilities and other challenges across society. These experiences have profoundly influenced her core commitment to supporting people to use their voice and realise their potential. This commitment has manifested in her professional and volunteer roles. Gina led the work of pioneering social enterprise, Care Opinion, in Scotland for 9 years. Her work resulted in Scotland being a world leader in the use of the online platform for people to share their experiences of health and social care.
Gina is now a versatile freelance professional who serves as a project worker, facilitator, and coach, drawing upon her extensive background in social enterprise, health and social care, and the third sector to drive positive change and enhancements.
Gina is also an associate education facilitator with Social Enterprise Scotland, a volunteer mentor with MCR Pathways and a member of the Stirling Carers Centre Board.
Dave's career has mainly been spent in mental health nursing in Argyll and the Inner Hebrides; initially as a community mental health nurse and then as a senior manager developing community services across 2,500 square miles – including 25 inhabited islands! A challenge but hugely rewarding. It was in this role that he developed a passion for public involvement.
Since retiring early, he moved to Doune and "on a whim" started working with Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland helping develop their Voices programme. This became a second career for him and he found working with people with long term health challenges and helping them have a say in their care as demanding (and rewarding) as mental health.
Dave is married to Suzie, has a miniature Dachshund called Sasha and one son, Phil, who is both a crofter and distiller (legally!) on Harris. His secret other passion is his Morris Traveller called Tabatha.
Emma has worked with marginalised communities across the UK and developed a passion for ensuring people's voices are heard. Following her degree in Psychology, Emma was an advocate for people living with mental health problems in the community in one of the most deprived areas of the UK. She moved onto working with young people, often at times of crisis, before becoming the CEO of Adventure Unlimited, a charity utilising the power of nature and outdoor pursuits to change people's lives.
In 2011, Emma moved to the Isle of Bute to develop the island's community-owned forest developing a strong commitment to and love of rural Scotland. She became CEO of Scottish Rural Action in 2014, leading 3 successful Scottish Rural Parliaments, and developing a strong voice for rural Scotland.
Most recently, Emma has been travelling in Europe, learning about different cultures and lifestyles, whilst also working as a freelance trainer, facilitator and coach. Emma gained a master's degree in Public Administration in 2011 and is currently working towards the completion of an ILM Level 7 Executive Coaching and Mentoring qualification.
Nicola has spent over 20 years as a chartered physiotherapist, working with people to achieve their rehabilitation goals within multiple settings. More recently she has combined her clinical skills with her passion and commitment for Quality Improvement as a Senior Improvement Adviser (AHP) in the Care Inspectorate. Nicola's drive to improve outcomes for people experiencing care has led her to lead and support projects on safer mobility, positive risk taking, meaningful activity and frailty. A key aspect in all of her work is listening to those persons whose lives will be enhanced or affected by any programmes of improvement.
Nicola is a Scottish Quality and Safety Fellow. It was learning from the Fellowship on the importance of community involvement, participation and co-design that led to an interest in the work of the Scottish Health Council.
When not working Nicola is most likely to be found on an adventure with her daughter, singing in a choir or visiting her sister in Jersey.
Jamie is the Business Transformation Manager at the New Tannahill Centre, a community hub located at the heart of Ferguslie Park in Paisley and is responsible for developing and designing projects and services that engage local people in the regeneration of their community.
Prior to this, Jamie undertook a wide range of community and business development roles within the not-for-profit sector which saw him work within local communities across the West of Scotland.
Jamie has also been involved with a number of voluntary roles including acting as a trustee and chairperson of Lifelink, a mental health and wellbeing charity based in Glasgow, and the Springburn Winter Gardens Trust, a charity aiming to redevelop and repurpose the grade A listed winter gardens located in Springburn Park.
Michelle has over 15 years’ experience in strategic planning of health and social care services for children, young people and families within the NHS, local authority and third sector. She recently worked on secondment in the Drugs Policy Division at the Scottish Government, contributing to the development of COVID-19 policy and support. Her current role is as a Community Justice Coordinator supporting needs assessment and strategic planning for the Community Justice Partnership.
Michelle has a wealth of experience in building and developing successful partnerships across sectors, along with meaningful engagement of lived experience in the development of policy and services. She is passionate about the importance of early intervention and the difference that this can make to health outcomes; and she has a good understanding of the wider determinants of health and the impact of health inequalities. Michelle worked for 10 years in Children and Families at City of Edinburgh Council and also spent time on secondment with NHS Lothian as Strategic Programme Manager for Child and Maternal Health. She has a good knowledge and understanding of children and families health and social care issues and the importance of developing whole systems approaches.