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RCH Executive

  • Telephone +61 3 9345 4844
    Facsimile +61 3 9345 4070

    Executive office
    The Royal Children's Hospital
    50 Flemington Road
    Parkville Victoria 3052

    Bernadette McDonald

    Chief Executive Officer

    RN (Registered Nurse), MHA, GAICD

    Bernadette McDonald was appointed to the role of CEO of The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) in September 2021.

    Bernadette was previously the CEO of Canberra Health Services at a time of great change in the ACT’s health service system. Prior that appointment, she was the Deputy CEO and then Interim CEO of Austin Health, having previously been the CEO of the Orbost Regional Health Service.

    Bernadette is a highly experienced leader with a track record of delivery in the Australian health sector. Known for her strategic vision, strong relationships, inspirational leadership and commitment to exceptional patient care, she demonstrates authentic leadership, and positions organisations for success by strategically assessing the environment and providing foresight to maximise impact and reputation.

    Bernadette has a Bachelor of Nursing, a Masters of Health Administration, post graduate diplomas in Health Services and Health Systems Management, and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

    Bernadette McDonald

    Sandy Bell

    Executive Director Strategy, Planning and Performance

    BA (Hons), MPPM, GAICD

    Sandy Bell was appointed to the role of Executive Director Strategy, Planning and Performance in February 2022.

    Sandy was previously the Director Strategy, Planning and Performance at the Royal Women’s Hospital and Austin Health, building a vision and strategic plan for the future at both health services.

    Sandy began her career as a Registered Nurse before joining the Department of Health where she worked in a number of roles across service and capital planning, elective surgery and rural health. In parallel, Sandy has built a 25+ year board career in both the public and not for profit sector in the areas of women, children and community services. Sandy is currently the Chair of the Queen Elizabeth Centre.

    Sandy is at her best when working together with others to create positive change for the future and measuring success.

    Sandy has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in women’s studies, a Masters of Public Policy and Management and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

    Sandy Bell

    Danielle Byrnes

    Executive Director, People and Culture


    Danielle Byrnes is the Executive Director, People and Culture and provides leadership and support to functions including: Human Resources, Organisational Development, Safety and Wellbeing, the Early Learning Centre, Library and the Wadja Family Place.

    Danielle began her career in industrial relations in the mining sector. She has led the Human Resources function at organisations including Box Hill Institute, Transdev Melbourne, the MFB (Metropolitan Fire Brigade), Australian Unity, Energy Australia and Western Health.

    Danielle has also led the broader corporate services functions at ACCIONA Energy, Department of Premier and Cabinet and the Fair Work Commission.

    Danielle is passionate about the health sector and has 13 years’ experience in public and private health and emergency medical response from Western Health, Australian Unity and the MFB. She has a personal vision to help people flourish in organisations and consequently the communities they serve.

    Danielle holds a Master’s Degree in Human Resources and Industrial Relations and a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Industrial Relations from the University of Western Australia.

    Danielle Byrnes

    A/Prof Tom Connell

    Chief of Medicine


    A/Prof Tom Connell was appointed to the role of Chief of Medicine at The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) in October 2018. In this role, Tom provides medical leadership for Heads of Department and their staff in 20 departments within the Division of Medicine and five inpatient medical wards.

    Prior to being appointed Chief of Medicine, Tom was the Director of General Medicine at RCH where he provided leadership to over 120 staff and gained awards for quality improvement in General Medicine and Specialist Clinics. In 2016, Tom was the recipient of the RCH Chairman’s Medal, recognising his contribution to improving patient flow, care for complex patients, medical education, clinical research, and workplace culture in his department. Tom has published over 80 peer reviewed manuscripts and has mentored and taught many trainees who now have successful careers at the RCH and other major national and international hospitals.

    Tom graduated from University College Dublin in 1996, received Membership of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland in 1999 and Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians in 2010. Tom completed a PhD through the University of Melbourne in 2011. In 2021, he completed fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators (FRACMA). Tom is an honorary Principal Fellow within The University of Melbourne, Department of Paediatrics.

      Tom Connell

    Alison Errey

    Executive Director Communications

    GradDipPublicAdmin, MJour MAICD

    Alison Errey was appointed to the role of Executive Director Communications at The Royal Children’s Hospital in April 2017, with responsibility for Strategy and Planning, Corporate Communications, the RCH National Child Health Poll, Family and Volunteer Services and History and Archives. In this role Alison oversees all facets of corporate strategy, brand and reputation management, media relations, digital strategy, and government and partner relationships.

    For more than 25 years Alison has led communications, corporate affairs and business transformation programs for some of the country's largest and most complex organisations. She led the creation of a $20 million community foundation and negotiated a national-first partnership with the Australian Human Rights Commission to champion workforce reform for mature Australians.

    With a background in news journalism, Alison has had an extensive career in media and issues management in the NSW public sector across the police, education and health portfolios, and led the change communications strategy for a multi-million dollar IT platform integration in the financial services sector. Acknowledged with industry awards for journalism and workforce engagement, Alison has complemented her career with a number of Board appointments in children's welfare and sports administration.

    Alison Errey

    Andrew Gay

    Chief Financial Officer


    Andrew Gay was appointed Chief Financial Officer in June 2022, and has responsibility for Finance, ICT, Payroll, Procurement and Supply, Facilities and Support Services.

    Andrew has previously held CFO positions with the Victorian Department of Health, Northern Health Services, Canberra Health Services and Austin Health Services.

    Prior to moving into the health sector, Andrew had a long and diverse career as a commercial executive and business leader across a wide range of complex industries and cultures. He has worked in packaging, paper and automotive industries in Australia, Korea and China. Prior to returning to Australia, Andrew was General Motors regional lead for business services within the Middle East and Asia Pacific areas, along with being a board member of GM Holden Australia Limited.

    Andrew holds a Bachelor of Business degree, and a Master of Business Administration. He is a Fellow of the Australian CPA’s and a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

    Andrew Gay

    Stuart Lewena

    Chief of Critical Care 

    MBBS(Hons) B Med Science FRACP

    Stuart is the current Chief of Critical Care, appointed to the position in January 2022 for the remainder of the year. He was previously the Director of Emergency Medicine and will return to this role in 2023.

    Stuart is a medical graduate of the University of Tasmania and worked across a range of clinical disciplines both in hospital and general practice for several years, before commencing specialist training in paediatrics in Western Australia in 1997. He moved to Melbourne in 2002 working in emergency medicine while completing fellowship training in paediatric emergency medicine (FRACP) that same year. He joined the Royal Children’s Hospital in 2003 as a fellow in our emergency department and was appointed to a senior medical staff position in 2004. He has continued as a full-time emergency physician at RCH and was appointed to the position of Director of Emergency Medicine in 2016.

    His interests include sustainable access to the required levels of care according to need, and the relationships between access, flow and patient safety.

    Stuart Lewena

    Mike O’Brien

    Chief of Surgery

    PhD, FRCSI(Paed), FRACS(Paed)

    Mike O’Brien was appointed Chief of Surgery at the Royal Children’s Hospital in 2013.

    Born and raised in West Cork in Ireland, Mike went to medical school at University College Cork, graduating in 1989.  He completed his adult general surgical training in Cork before undertaking PhD research.

    Moving to the UK to train in Paediatric Surgery, Mike worked at Great Ormond Street and Hammersmith Hospitals in London, University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, Bristol Children’s Hospital and Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Mike also spent a year in Melbourne at The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH), before returning to the UK where he worked as a Consultant Paediatric Urologist in Birmingham.

    Mike returned to the Royal Children’s Hospital as a Consultant Paediatric Urologist in 2005 and has been Head of Department of Urology since 2009, and Chief of Surgery since 2013.

    As well as his clinical role with a specific interest in genital anomalies and functional bladder issues, Mike has sat on the hospital research ethics committee for more than 10 years. He is also an active educator and the Medical Ambassador to the Clown Doctors.

    Mike Obrien

    Denise Patterson

    Chief Operating Officer

    MMidwifery, GradDipHealthMgt, GCertHospRedesign

    Denise Patterson was appointed to the role of Chief Operating Officer of The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) in May 2022. In this role, Denise has overall responsibility for the clinical operations of the hospital, working closely with the executive team.

    Denise was previously the Chief Operating Officer of Canberra Health Services at a time of great change in the ACT’s health service system. Prior to that appointment, Denise held many senior executive roles, including Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery and Patient Quality and Safety at Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service (Queensland), Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery at Western Health (Victoria) and Chief of Clinical and Site Operations at Box Hill Hospital (Victoria).

    Denise is a highly experienced leader with an extensive career across nursing and midwifery, health system reform and hospital operations. With a track record of delivery in the Australian health sector, Denise is known for her inspirational leadership and commitment to patient care and experience.

    Denise has a Masters of Midwifery, a Graduate Diploma in Health Management and a Graduate Certificate in Hospital Redesign.

    Kathryn Riddell

    Executive Director Nursing and Allied Health and Chief Nursing Officer

    Adjunct Professor, RN, CCRN, MN (Research), MACN

    Kathryn Riddell was appointed Executive Director Nursing and Allied Health and Chief Nursing Officer in August 2022, with responsibility for nursing education and research, allied health and Infection Prevention and Control.

    With a career spanning over thirty years, Kath is a highly experienced nursing leader who demonstrates more than 10 years’ executive level professional and operational experience within the Victorian public health sector. Across the breadth of her career, Kath has led strategy in patient safety and quality, workforce planning and industry based nursing and inter-professional education.

    Kath previously held the position of Executive Chief Nursing Officer with St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne (SVHM). Prior to this, Kath spent 12 years with Eastern Health, with her final position being Executive Director: Learning and Teaching & Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer.

    Kath is compassionate and inspired to make a difference to deliver high quality care, and excited about driving generational change.

    Kath has a Master of Nursing (Research), a Graduate Diploma of Health Management, a Bachelor of Education and a Graduate Diploma of Critical Care Nursing.

    Kathryn Riddell

    Professor Matt Sabin

    Executive Director Medical Services and Clinical Governance and Chief Medical Officer


    Professor Matt Sabin is the Executive Director Medical Services and Clinical Governance and Chief Medical Officer at The Royal Children’s Hospital. Having trained at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London (UK) and becoming a member of the UK Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health in 2000, he began specialist training in paediatric endocrinology and diabetes and completed a PhD in the area of childhood obesity and diabetes. Matt moved to The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne in 2006, became a member of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians in 2009, Director of Endocrinology & Diabetes in 2015, Chief of Medicine in 2016, and Chief Medical Officer in 2018.

    Matt is also a Clinical Professorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne and a Senior Research Fellow at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. He has made significant contributions to the Melbourne Children’s Campus in the areas of clinical service, research and education. He established The RCH Weight Management Service, the largest specialist service for obese children in Australasia, and has published over 100 clinical research and basic science papers - many in leading international journals.

    Matt provides leadership to the areas of Medical Workforce Unit, Quality & Improvement, Research Ethics & Governance, Medical Education, Health Services Research and the Children’s Bioethics Centre. He has completed a Senior Executive MBA at Melbourne Business School and is a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

    Matt Sabin

    Executive support

    • Simone Williams, Executive Assistant to Chief Executive Officer and RCH Board Chair
    • Clarissa Guest, Executive Assistant to Executive Director Communications, Chief Financial Officer and Executive Director Strategy, Planning and Performance
    • Simone Seabrook, Executive Assistant to Executive Director Nursing and Allied Health and Chief Nursing Officer and Executive Director Medical Services and Clinical Governance and Chief Medical Officer
    • Maddi Playford, Executive Assistant to Chief of Surgery, Chief of Critical Care and Chief of Medicine
    • Cheryl Bartolo, Executive Assistant to Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director People and Culture
    • Peter Bunworth, Board Secretary