Richard Coleman

Richard Coleman

Areas of Interest

Business, Health Care

Honorary Award

Honorary Doctor of Philosophy, 2004


Richard was appointed as the inaugural Chief Executive of North Essex Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust in 2001, having been Project Director for the creation of the Trust, which encompassed 3 predecessor Trust and Essex Social Services. The Trust became an NHS Foundation Trust in October 2007.

Having achieved a BSc (Hons) in Social Services and CQSW in 1974, he held various social care posts in Bristol, London and New Zealand. He joined Islington Health Authority as a General manager in 1987, leading a number of specialist community services. He became Director of Strategic Development, Camden & Islington Community Health NHS Trust in 1993 and Chief Executive of Mid Essex Community & Mental Health NHS Trust in 1996. He has chaired the Eastern Region Mental Health Modernisation Taskforce and the Essex NHS Leadership Steering Group and sat on numerous voluntary sector management committees. Throughout his career, Richard has shown great commitment to the provision of high quality mental health services and to their long-term development.

In 2004 Richard Coleman was made an Honorary Doctor of Philosophy.


"The Senate of Anglia Polytechnic University has great pleasure in recommending the award of an Honorary Doctor of the University degree to Richard Coleman, BSc Hons, DMS, Chief Executive of the North Essex Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, member of the NHS Confederation on Mental Health Policy and Co-chair of the Eastern Region Mental Health Task Force, strategist, planner, innovator and teacher in the field of mental health care, where he translates plans into direct action for the benefit of service users throughout North Essex.

Mr Coleman gained a social science degree at the University of Bath in 1974 and trained as a social worker at the university. His first job was as a social worker with Avon County Council in the St Paul's area of Bristol in 1974. He later moved to a social work post in Kensington & Chelsea and then to New Zealand in 1977 to work as a psychiatrist social worker in Auckland Hospital.

Returning to the UK in 1978, he was appointed psychiatric social work team leader at Claybury Hospital, a large mental health hospital in Essex. In 1981 he was appointed clinical training manager in charge of a clinical teaching unit, teaching multi-disciplinary social workers, nurses and other professionals. Richard completed a Diploma of Management Studies at the University of East London and took a Kings Fund Study Scholarship to the USA in 1985. He became planning and development advisor on special needs housing and priority services planning within the London Borough Council of Waltham Forest in 1986. Within this role he developed a multi-agency housing consortium. Mr Coleman moved into general management of the NHS in 1987 as assistant unit general manager with Islington Health Authority. He was responsible to services for people with learning difficulties and all directly managed mental health services. Here he introduced Patient's Councils and community mental health teams.

Richard was appointed service director for adults and community in 1990, being responsible for mental health, learning disabilities, allied health professions and community nursing services. In 1991 he became unit general manager for community services with Bloomsbury & Islington HA, managing a wide range of community and mental health services, including primary and family care. He also co-ordinated the NHS community care implementation for Islington HA and led a successful hospital reprovision process culminating in 42 completed schemes, many with external partnerships.

He joined Camden & Islington Community Health Service NHS Trust as Director of Strategic Services when the Trust was founded in 1993. Becoming Director or Services within the Trust in 1995, he was Executive Director for all non-medical and nursing services, including HR. In Islington the Trust developed an innovative unit to help people who were experiencing post-traumatic stress and planned services for individuals who were homeless or who were political refugees. Mr Coleman also reorganised these services and facilities thereby generating significant levels of new income for new initiatives. During this period he managed a development programme of 35 separate projects that transformed four predecessor units into a new corporate trust identity with uniform strategy and policies.

Richard was appointed Chief Executive of the Mid-Essex Community & Mental Health Trust in 1996 and was responsible for the strategic planning, HR and estates & facilities. The Trust had gone through a period of difficult organisational change. However, he quickly developed a strong and coherent management team and rebuilt morale and a sense of strategic direction throughout the Trust. Significant quality improvements and developments in primary care and mental health care were made, including four innovative schemes. These initiatives significantly boosted stakeholder confidence in the local mental health services.

When the decision was taken in 1999 to restructure mental health services across North Essex, Richard directed the project and 'shadow' trust board. As a central member of the board he resourced and implemented the agreed action plan and also made a central contribution to bringing all care agencies together, including social services and user groups. He was appointed CE of the North Essex Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust when it was established in 1st April 2001. The Trust is one of the largest NHS partnership trusts in the country and currently hosts the National Institute of Mental Health (England) Eastern Development Partnership.

Throughout Richard Coleman's career, both in Social Services and subsequently Health Service Management, he has demonstrated an unrivalled commitment to the development and delivery of high quality mental health services and to their long-term development through research and service planning. He has ensured a high quality service is provided and that service users are at the centre of all developments. He has been a key influence in establishing partnerships, initially with Social Services, but latterly with the other stakeholders in mental health services. His work in North Essex has lead to a confidence within the Local Authority to be able to transfer services to be managed by the new partnership mental health trust.

Richard's commitment to service and organised learning and development has been demonstrated through his visits to other services and health systems, his wide networks and his encouragement and coaching of others in the field. Thus, he has led the way in the development of Partnership Trusts and has been a champion of mental health promotion for many years. His ability to network amongst wider health services has also helped to prevent the marginalisation of mental health services.

As a colleague Richard is supportive and stimulating in his ability to put forward innovative proposals for the short and long term development of services. His style is open and inclusive and he has deservedly earned the respect and trust of colleagues at all levels, both within the trust and in the wider health economy. He is fully committed to continuous learning and promotes the trust as a learning environment, enabling and encouraging staff of all grades to undertake studies relevant to their grade. He also engages in regular meetings with the Dean of Community Health & Social Studies and senior academics from the Mental Health Studies field. Richard is always willing to meet with students both on placement and in the university, and is central to the development of the partnership arrangements between APU and the trust.

Richard Coleman has been a member of the National Task Force on Mental Health, DOH groups for Mental Health CEs, the NHSE/SSS Task Force 'Good Practice in Care Management' and other Department of Health committees. He is currently on various local committees and working groups, including Victim Support, NACRO, MIND and the Housing Association. He completed the Kings Fund 'Top Managers' programme in 1996, the Stanford University 'Leading Change & Organisational Renewal' course in 2001 and the NHS Leadership Centre's 'Chief Executives Development Programme' in 2002.

It is for these reasons, therefore, that I invite you, Vice Chancellor, to confer on Richard Coleman, the degree of Honorary Doctor of the University."