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RCH Executive

  • Telephone +61 3 9345 4844
    Facsimile +61 39345 4070

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

    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

    Professor Michael Cheung

    Chief of Surgery

    BSc, MB ChB, MD, FRCP (UK), FRACP, MBA

    Michael is the current Chief of Surgery, appointed to the position in November 2022.

    Michael was born and raised in Birmingham in England. Having attended medical school at University of Bristol UK, he trained at leading congenital cardiac centres in the world including RCH, Great Ormond St (London), Royal Brompton Hospital (London), and the Hospital for Sick Children (Toronto). He returned to Melbourne in 2005 as a Consultant Cardiologist, and in 2011 he was appointed Director of Cardiology at the RCH and Leader of the Heart Research Group at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute. He is a Professorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne. He has published 9 book chapters and >200 manuscripts. His MBA study was through Melbourne Business School.

    His subspecialty clinical interest is Cardiac Imaging including echocardiography and MRI. He has served on the RCH Foundation board and is the current Chair of the Paediatric Executive of the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand.

    Michael Cheung

    A/Prof Tom Connell

    Executive Director Medical Services and Clinical Governance and Chief Medical Officer

    MB BAO BCH B Med Science MRCPI FRACP PhD FRACMA

    A/Prof Tom Connell was appointed to the role of Chief of Medicine at the 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 RCH 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

    Shane Hendricks

    Acting Executive Director, People and Culture

    MBA, MOHS, DipOHS, MADM, ME, HDE

    Shane was appointed to the role of Acting Executive Director People and Culture in October 2022. He has worked at the RCH for 12 years, most recently as the Director of Workplace Health, Safety and Wellbeing. He has led a portfolio encompassing staff safety, injury management, wellbeing, respiratory protection and mental health.

    Shane has more than 15 years of experience in developing and implementing health and safety solutions. He has a proven track record of success and has led an award-winning injury management program that was recognised by WorkSafe.

    Prior to this, Shane worked in Education. His experiences in this field have provided a solid foundation for ensuring that appropriate frameworks are developed and implemented and that leaders are coached in the necessary skills to work towards a 'zero harm' culture. Shane has qualifications in Education, Architecture, Occupational Health and Safety, and Human Resources and has worked as a safety expert across multiple industries, including telecommunications and energy.

    Shane lives by the motto “I never lose; I win or I learn” (Nelson Mandela) and encourages his team to continuously improve on HR and safety issues raised within the hospital.

    Shane holds a Master of Business, Master of Occupational Health and Safety, Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety, Master of Architecture (Design Management), Master in Education and a Higher Diploma in Education.

    Shane Hendricks

    Andrew Gay

    Chief Financial Officer

    BBus, MBA, FCPA, GAICD

    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

    Ed Oakley

    Chief of Critical Care

    MBBS FACEM

    Associate Professor Ed Oakley was appointed Chief of Critical Care at The Royal Children’s Hospital in 2016, after working as the Director of Emergency Medicine for three years.

    Ed trained in emergency medicine in Melbourne at Austin Health and The Royal Children’s Hospital. He gained fellowship of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) in 1998 and became a senior staff member in the Emergency Department of The Royal Children’s Hospital that same year. Ed continued in this role until 2008 when he moved to Monash Health as the Director of Paediatric Emergency Medicine, before returning to The Royal Children’s Hospital in 2012.

    Ed has been an Honorary Research Fellow at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) since 2002. Ed is an active researcher in clinical emergency medicine and is the lead researcher for the Paediatric Emergency Medicine Centre of Research Excellence housed at the MCRI.

    Ed Oakley

    Denise Patterson

    Chief Operating Officer

    MMidwifery, GradDipHealthMgt, GCertHospRedesign

    Denise Patterson was appointed to the role of Chief Operating Officer of the 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.

    Denise Patterson

    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

    Michelle Telfer

    Chief of Medicine

    MBBS (Hons.), FRACP, GAICD

    Michelle is a Paediatrician and Adolescent Medicine Physician and is the current Chief of Medicine, appointed to the position in December 2022.

    Prior to being appointed Chief of Medicine, Michelle was the Director of the Department of Adolescent Medicine at RCH. She was also the Director of the RCH Gender Service and has been instrumental in the development and expansion of the clinical and research programs amidst rising demand for trans-specific health care in children and adolescents. As an advocate for improved access to medical treatment, Michelle was central to the achievement of federal legal reform and was first author of the inaugural Australian Standards of Care and Treatment Guidelines for trans and gender diverse children and adolescents, which was endorsed via an editorial in The Lancet. In 2019, Michelle was personally profiled by The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health for her achievements in the field.

    Michelle was awarded the 2017 GLOBE Community Award for LGBTI Ally of the Year, the President’s Award by Thorne Harbour Health in 2021 and she received a Lifetime Achievement Award in Adolescent Health by the Australian Association for Adolescent Health in 2019. Led by Michelle, the RCHGS was awarded the Minister for Mental Health’s Award for excellence in consumer leadership and advocacy at the Victorian Public Healthcare Awards in 2015 and 2018. In 2022, Michelle was inducted onto the Victorian Honour Roll of Women.

    Michelle was born in Perth and graduated from the University of Western Australia in 2000, receiving Membership of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians in 2010. Prior to studying medicine, Michelle was a gymnast with the Western Australian Institute of Sport. As a 16-year-old she won silver and bronze medals at the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland and was a member of the 1992 Olympic Gymnastics Team in Barcelona.

    Michelle Telfer


    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