The Greater Manchester Cancer programme is supported by a small and committed team of professionals.


David Shackley – Medical Director

Greater Manchester Cancer was set up in principle in 2013 and Professor Shackley was the first appointment. He has led the development of the organisation and structure along with the work programme since inception.  Over that time it has evolved from a Provider focussed network into a whole system integrated body coordinating cancer care in its broadest sense across Greater Manchester.

He led the development and consultation of the 5 year Greater Manchester Cancer Plan (2015-20) which is now in the delivery phase with dedicated funding from many sources including the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care transformation Fund.

In 2015 to 2018 he was also the co-lead for the National Cancer Vanguard which brought Greater Manchester and London together as a 10 million catchment population to develop and test new cancer approaches before a broader roll out across NHS England. Prime amongst these programmes was the development of 4 national best practice timed pathways in common cancers, now part of National NHS planning (commissioning) guidance, along with other initiatives many incorporated into the GM cancer plan.

He is also the Clinical Lead at MAHSC (Manchester Academic Health Science Centre) for cancer working with colleagues to bring research and clinical care closer together. The Cancer domain of MAHSC / MCRC has contributed to the broad GM-based team which successfully brought together the £28.5m NIHR BRC programme to Greater Manchester: 3 of the 7 domains are cancer related.

Professor Shackley has worked as a consultant at Salford Royal since 2005 and his main clinical interests over this time have been renal cancer and stones, medical education and healthcare management. He continues to operate and be clinically active.

Previously he has sat on the HAELO board (Salford’s Health and Improvement Centre), was a member of the National Urological Training Committee (SAC) 2010 to 2015, and was the Chair of the Surgical Division/ Associate Medical Director at Salford Royal (2010-2013). He has been the Chair of the Regional Urological Training Committee, Programme Director and Career Lead for North West Urology (2007-10), and between 2006 and 2010 he was the Assistant National Director of Education for BAUS (British Association of Urological Surgeons). He qualified from The University of Manchester in 1992.

COR Aug18

Claire O’Rourke – Associate Director

Claire has been working in cancer services for over 15 years and has a wealth of clinical and senior management experience. She started as an oncology nurse at the Christie in 2002, working with patients with complex cancer needs and palliative care support requirements. Claire was privileged to support cancer patients and their families through their most difficult times at the end of life. Claire had a keen interest in cancer research and pursued a career in breast cancer research nurse for 3 years and ran several nurse led cancer clinics at this time.

Following this, Claire expressed an interest in improving cancer services at the Christie and worked on several transformation projects to firstly to redesign chemotherapy pathways, to review bed capacity plans and open up a day case service unit with acute oncology provision. For the next 4 years Claire was a senior operational manager at the Christie, managing palliative and psychology services, acute oncology, critical care services, and she devised the business plan for the Maggie’s Centre.

She moved to Salford Royal in 2015 to manage surgical and trauma services, and gained extensive experience cancer strategy planning and service redesign at an acute provider.

Claire has been working at Greater Manchester Cancer since 2016, beginning with work to redesign pathways for lung cancer and head and neck patients, and to review cancer strategy for psychology services, palliative care and end of life service provision across Manchester. She moved into the role of Associate Director of Greater Manchester Cancer in 2018 and is also the operational lead for the Greater Manchester Cancer Alliance.

Claire is passionate about cancer care in Greater Manchester and ensuring patients receive world class treatment and the best cancer outcomes, but most importantly that patients are provided with a package of support throughout their cancer treatment and beyond, to live well after treatment is completed.

sp 2019

Susannah Penney – Associate Medical Director

Miss Susannah Penney is a consultant head, neck and thyroid surgeon employed at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust. She is a graduate of the University of Manchester and completed her otolaryngology training in the North-West of England.  As part of her training she was awarded a prestigious national head and neck training fellowship at the Freeman Hospital, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

She was appointed to her consultant job in 2012 and as well as performing major head and neck surgery at MFT she oversees the head and neck cancer diagnostic service at Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care Organisation. In 2016 she was appointed lead cancer clinician for Tameside Hospital and works as part of the cancer services team to drive forward the standard of care for all cancers within the locality.  At the same time, she was appointed to the post of pathway director for head and neck cancer within the Greater Manchester Cancer organisation to lead a team of people from across GM to ensure high standards of care for all head and neck cancer patients.

Susannah has recently been successful in being appointed Associate Medical Director at GM Cancer and is leading on a number of projects including accelerated diagnostic pathways and MDT reform across all tumour sites.

Away from work she has a young daughter who keeps her busy. She also likes to play badminton and race cars (on a track).

Alison Armstrong

Alison Armstrong – Programme Lead

Alison is a Diagnostic Radiographer by background and has worked in the NHS since 1995 in a range of clinical and managerial roles in various locations throughout the UK. She has worked within a Greater Manchester cancer environment for the last 13 years, starting as the Clinical Specialist Radiographer for MRI Scanning in 2005 at the Christie and most recently, in her post as Radiology Services Manager.  Alison has worked closely with clinical colleagues at all levels to develop patient cancer services having led on radiology transformation and service redesign.

Alison took up her post as GM Cancer Programme Lead in October 2018, focussed on making a difference to patients by helping improve cancer services.

Pathway Board Team


Michelle Leach – Pathway Manager

Michelle became a Pathway Board Manager in July 2017 for Colorectal, Gynaecology, Haematology, Sarcoma and Psychological Support & Mental Health pathway Boards.  Michelle was previously one of the Macmillan User Involvement Managers within the Team supporting the development and implementation of Greater Manchester Cancer’s user involvement and patient experience work programme.

Michelle was previously a Project Manager for Haelo planning and managing improvement projects within healthcare including 2 collaboratives at Leeds Teaching Hospitals, one for the deteriorating patient and the other to reduce inpatient falls, Salford Integrated Care Programme for older people, NHS QUEST collaboratives, the MAHSC IS4Ac programme which was delivered by Haelo and as part of the National QIPP (Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention) Safe care Programme.

Michelle has worked in the NHS for over 15 years at a number of organisations including Morecambe Bay, Pennine Acute and East and North Herts NHS Trust.

In 2013 Michelle was an IHI (Institute for Health Care Improvement) Blue Shirt at the 25th Symposium in Orlando and her long term goals are to keep striving for healthcare improvement.

Rach headshot

Rachel Allen – Pathway Manager

Rachel has been working in health and social care for all of her career to date, mainly within public health, early intervention and prevention. On completion of her first class honours Sport and Exercise Science degree in 2009, Rachel was fortunate to be offered an MPhil studentship at the University of Salford. Her research incorporated an evaluation of the impact of Wigan Borough’s Free Swimming Programme to investigate the influence of a change in pricing strategy for swimming pool usage over a three year period (2008-2011). Free Swimming was a local programme derived from a national cross-government physical activity policy. One of its main premises was to provide equitable access to physical activity by removing the entry-fee to swimming pools thereby reducing health inequalities at a local level.

Rachel’s enthusiasm for public health continued and led to her employment with Wakefield Council. Rachel spent eighteen months in Yorkshire gaining insight across a range of disciplines within the public health arena including prevention and the management of long term conditions; and commissioning. During this role, she also operated on a regional footprint supporting the tobacco control network for Yorkshire and the Humber.

In 2014, Rachel moved to an extremely dynamic role with Bury Council children’s services. During her time there, Rachel led a key service reform within the organisation, streamlining the locality’s Children’s Centre model. Rachel was responsible for ensuring that evidence-based practice was embedded in Children’s Centre delivery and management. She led the performance monitoring of Children’s Centres resolving performance concerns in advance of Ofsted inspections. She also led on Health and Safety in Children’s Centres and supported Children’s Centre Managers in the management, development and maintenance of Children’s Centre sites and facilities.

In 2016, Rachel was seconded to the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership (GMHSCP) as one of the founding members of the population health transformation team. Within this time, Rachel worked on many high-profile programmes including Greater Manchester Moving: GM’s comprehensive plan to increase physical activity participation across the conurbation. This work involved moving beyond project interventions, to embedding and hardwiring activity into the whole system. Rachel also played a leading role in the mobilisation of the GM Local Delivery Pilot (LDP) with Sport England, developing bold new approaches to build healthier, more active communities across the region.

Throughout her time with the GMHSCP, Rachel worked closely with Greater Manchester Cancer, managing two major transformational programmes including the prevention work stream of the GM Cancer Vanguard in its first year. More recently, Rachel managed a rapid and comprehensive modelling exercise to assess the feasibility of a pan-GM lung health check programme for current and ex-smokers, building on the 2016 MCIP Pilot.

Rachel moved into the role of Pathway Manager for Greater Manchester Cancer in August 2018 and is responsible for several pathways, including: lung, skin, head and neck, children’s, teenagers and young adults (TYA) and breast.


Fiona Lewis – Pathway Manager

Fiona has worked in the NHS for over 32 years, she originally qualified as a Registered General Nurse in 1988 and as a Registered Sick Children’s Nurse in 1992.  For 17 years Fiona has worked clinically in a number of hospitals in and around Greater Manchester, Lancashire, North Wales and Hong Kong, a role which she thoroughly enjoyed.  She studied part time and graduated in 2002 with LLB (hons) following which she left nursing and started to get involved and completed a number of projects which included commissioning, service redesign, delivering pathway projects in the NHS in primary, secondary care and tertiary care settings at local, network and national level.

Fiona’s first role was with the Modernisation team at Pennine Acute to implement Choose and Book, and setting up a theatre scheduling team. Following this she joined Bury PCT where she developed a broad wealth of knowledge in commissioning and service redesign as a Commissioning Manager / Project Manager for Chronic Disease Management and Unscheduled Care.  She was seconded to the Cardiac and Stroke Network where she continued and finished the Stroke Rehabilitation peer review across the Greater Manchester area.  Fiona then joined Healthier Together team as a Project manager for the Project management office and latterly as a Service Redesign manager.

Fiona’s last role was as a Proton Beam Therapy Project Manager supporting Dr Ed Smith, the Director for protons on the development of the first UK NHS Proton service and the development of site specific referral pathways for protons ensuring engagement with key stakeholders locally and nationally.

Fiona’s passion is to continue to improve standards of care and access to NHS services for patients and to support staff to deliver this. In her spare time, Fiona loves spending time outdoors and meeting new people.


James Leighton – Programme Support

James qualified as a Radiographer in 1983 and worked in a number of hospitals in Greater Manchester and once in West Yorkshire.

James spent the majority of his career working within Radiology at what is now Salford Royal. His last post was a joint one with the University of Salford as clinical tutor on the undergraduate radiography programme. He has also served on the Council of the Society and College of Radiographers including a year as President.

In 1999 left clinical radiography began a career working in strategic and change management, working on a number of large scale projects within Lancashire, South Cumbria as well as across Greater Manchester.

Living With and Beyond Cancer 


Lindsey Wilby – Macmillan Project Manager

Lindsey is the Macmillan Project Manager for Living with and Beyond Cancer. She is responsible for ensuring that survivorship issues are considered across all of Greater Manchester Cancer’s tumour site-specific and cross-cutting pathways.

Having graduated with Master’s degrees in both Psychology and Publishing, Lindsey worked for Oxford University Press and Blackwell Publishing before moving into healthcare in 2002. She spent four years investigating serious complaints against the NHS at the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman and the Healthcare Commission. From 2006-2014 Lindsey worked in various roles at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), initially as Project Manager for Topic Selection and most recently as Programme Manager for the Medical Technologies Evaluation Programme.


Louise Lawrence – Macmillan Programme Manager

Louise joins the Greater Manchester Cancer Team through a partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support and The Christie NHS Foundation Trust.  Louise has extensive experience within both private and public settings.  Qualified in marketing, Louise’s career journey steered her into Projects, with this she brings over 20 years of Programme Management, Business Change, Stakeholder Engagement, IT and Group Communications diversity to the team.

Louise’s current role is a Macmillan Specialist Palliative Care Service Programme Manager for a two year pilot; programme managing the design, implementation and evaluation of Specialist Palliative Care Service enhancements within Salford and Wigan localities.  In previous roles Louise worked as a deputy Acute and Critical Care Service Manager and Acute Oncology Project Manager helping to implement change within the strategic Acute Oncology Management Service (Hotline), Bed Management, the Oncology Assessment Unit, Specialist Supportive & Palliative Care and Critical Care services.

She has engaged in innovative collaborative schemes of enhanced supportive care with acute oncology, worked with community teams through Trafford and Tameside initiatives on an online GP portal to incorporate proactive patient management, risk stratification models and an education programme to up skill district nursing teams on Acute Oncology.  She has had fantastic opportunities to work with the very vulnerable through volunteering with Start and rehabilitating mental health plus worked with a wide range of national and international professional bodies throughout her progressing career.


Zoe Merchant – Prehabilitation Project Manager

Zoe is an Occupational Therapist with a clinical speciality in neurological and physical rehabilitation developed over 10 years. She has worked with many patients and their families / carers, with a variety of different mental and physical health conditions including cancer. She has been privileged to collaborate with them to achieve their rehabilitation goals plus gain the necessary clinical interventions needed for improved health and well-being, often through close liaison with other NHS, social care and third-party sector organisations such as Macmillan. In her role as Prehabilitation Project Manager at GM Cancer she utilises her holistic specialist skills, knowledge and experience to embed evidence-based services into pre-existing pathways that will lead to improved outcomes for people newly-diagnosed with cancer in Greater Manchester.

As an innovative manager and clinical lead Zoe has established several new multi-disciplinary services in Salford Royal (Stroke ESD) and Frimley Park (FORT) NHS Hospitals, two of the first and only CQC ‘outstanding’ NHS foundation trusts in the UK. She was nominated for the NHS Leadership Academy’s ‘Emerging Leader’ award in recognition of her work and was selected for a NHS management training programme which she has utilised to deliver NHS transformation.

Having completed a Masters in Occupational Therapy, Zoe is passionate about continued professional development and ensuring that service provision for patients is wherever possible based on recent and relevant research.

Zoe worked in her earlier career in private industry, most notably on a graduate training scheme with Dell Computers, where she gained a high degree of software/hardware competence in her role in the public sector division of Dell’s EMEA operations.

Zoe is a member of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists Specialist Section in Oncology and is enthusiastic in her contributions to achieving world-class patient led cancer outcomes in Greater Manchester.

Macmillan User Involvement Team


Lucie Francis – Macmillan User Involvement Team Lead

Lucie Francis is the Macmillan User Involvement Team Lead and joined the team in August 2015.

Lucie has worked in the voluntary sector for nearly 10 years working to support and advocate on behalf of people in vulnerable situations through the development and delivery of both local and national campaigns.

Most recently Lucie held a regional Stakeholder Relations role at Alzheimer’s Society where, working alongside people with dementia, she delivered engagement events with politicians and key health and social care stakeholders to emphasise the need for dementia to remain high on the agenda. Lucie graduated last year with an MA in Human Rights and Ethics focusing on the place of Human Rights in Dementia Care

Natasha Smith photo

Natasha Smith – Macmillan User Involvement Manager

Natasha joined the Macmillan User Involvement Team in June 2017 as a User Involvement Manager for Greater Manchester Cancer. Natasha comes to the Team with 25 years’ experience in the NHS ranging from work in an acute hospital setting to service user involvement project management in Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol Services.  Natasha has been an advocate for service user involvement for the past 15 years and is always inspired by the great work that people involved do to improve the patient experience.  Natasha is new to the cancer treatment world and is very much looking forward to working with the patients affected by cancer alongside the rest of the Team.

Natasha lives on the Wirral and has two grown up children James and Rebecca. When she’s not at work, Natasha enjoys going to the gym to keep fit and healthy, and loves live music and musical theatre.