The Primary Care Academy Team

Director of the academy

Dr Gill Tonge

I came to Rochdale in 1992 completing my VTS training at Castleton Health Centre and moving down the road to be a GP at Peterloo Medical Centre in 1996, for where I have remained ever since. In 2002 Peterloo Medical centre gained back training status for which we have been training a wide array of trainees ever since.

I represented Middleton on the LMC from 1997 -2004 through this I was involved in the teenager pregnancy task group, cervical cytology and maternity service committee.

In 2004 I became RCGP NWE sexual health course director and have ran courses across North West related to men, women’s and sexual health. Through this role, I have developed a cervical screening training package for GPST which is currently being evaluated nationally with a view to national rollout.

In 2007 I joined the Pennine GPST educator team and have been involved in training our next generation of GP’s on the patch since then.

I have been involved with a lot of the practices in the area, if not with my GPST training hat on, with other hats I have worn related to being a QoF assessor (2004-2006) and a local appraiser (2009-2011).

I have recently been appointed HMR Academy Director and Greater Manchester Training Hub NE sector clinical lead which is all about helping train, develop and enhance primary care for the whole of our workforce.

Aside from being a GP, I am trying to become an accomplished sailor and partake in a variety of outdoor activities (usually in the rain in the Lake District!)  with my husband, daughter and our chocolate Labrador.




Academy Manager 

Dawn O'Brien

I am the Manager of Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale Primary Care Academy. I started my career in the NHS 16 years ago working as a receptionist for a GP surgery in Hyde. After 5 years I then moved to an administrator role in the NHS working with a children’s team. After 7 years I then moved to Tameside Hospital as part of the Foundation Team working with junior doctors and their education and I was then offered a post setting up the new Enhanced Training Programme which was to look at the introduction of new roles within Primary Care and developing placements for undergraduate students with a view to encouraging them to consider a career in Primary Care. In July 2018 I was offered the opportunity to become the Manager of the HMR Primary Care Academy working with the wonderful Dr Gill Tonge and Rochdale Health Alliance, developing a team that will hopefully help change Primary Care across HMR! I have a passion for education and feel that with the team we are building then the Academy will go from strength to strength.

I am also mum to two wonderful children (most of the time), myself and my partner (Andy) are also foster parents to two other children and have fostered for 7 years, we recently added to the chaos with our adorable Morkie puppy Maggie. We enjoy walking and looking for dog friendly places to take Maggie Moo to explore!



Executive Assistant

Samantha Austin

Whilst working for the NHS for the last eighteen years I have had several different roles.  Initially, I worked in the outpatients' department as a receptionist at Tameside & Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust.

From there I moved to the education & training department as a Clinical Placement/Training Administrator to support the student nurse placement programme.  At the same time, I was given the opportunity to work in the Medical Education Department.

I have undertaken several different aspects of Medical Education over the last thirteen years including administrating varied teaching programmes for the medical students, organising and co-ordinating Specialty Training Programmes including the GPSTs and processing medical staff’s study leave.

I am married with two daughters.  Outside of work I have a keen interest in walking & socialising with friends & family.


Clinical Fellow

Mary Cheshire

I started my career in the NHS when I was 15 years old as a Medical Personal Assistant at The Royal Oldham Hospital. After working for a couple of years, I went back to study my A'Levels and then to The University of Leeds, eventually qualifying as a Solicitor with the Government Legal Service (GLS) working for the Department of Work and Pensions and The Department of Health.

I enjoyed my role at the GLS however, I couldn't shake off my life-long ambition to become a doctor so I went back to University to study Medicine at Manchester Medical School. It was a fantastic experience! After graduating I went on to complete my training in local hospitals and General Practices (GP) while studying for the GP exams and also having a couple of kids in relatively quick succession!

I am now a newly qualified GP doing two varied roles, for part of the week I am a regular (if there is such a thing) GP, seeing patients at the Dawes Family Practice in Rochdale. For the other part of the week, I am working in Medical Education with Primary Care Academy and also working with the Greater Manchester Training Hub to guide the GP Fellowship.


I.T Trainer

Joe Jones

I have always worked in I.T. throughout my career, which enabled me to set up a computer business, which I ran successfully for over 10 years, I am also a trained HGV driver.

In 2009 I moved abroad for 7 years and lived in Brussels, Belgium. This allowed me quality time bringing up my 3 boys, now men - which I missed, having to work long hours during their early years.
Myself and the kids moved back to the UK in 2016, and I soon began working within the NHS in I.T. for the Community District Nurses, from this I have gained this position working with Primary Care Academy.

I live with my partner Melanie and between us have 7 children (kidults), very busy household !!
Any of our spare time (if any!) consists of running around for the kids and walking our pet child "Buddy the Schnoodle".


Workforce Development Co-Ordinator

Alison Greensmith

The last 10 years have lead me down quite a few career paths. From 17 to 22 I worked as Healthcare Assistant in private care homes, whilst employed as an HCA I gained quite a few qualifications such as NVQ Level 2 & Level 3 in Health & Social Care, Safe Handling of Medication and an NVQ Level 2 in Domestic and COSHH. I found this role really set me up well for working in the NHS and has given me a good foundation to build relationships with other healthcare professionals. I knew the HCA role was no longer for me as much as the role is rewarding, it is also demanding, and I longed to work in an office-based environment. The years between care working and joining the NHS when I was 26 I worked at a handful of small part-time roles to ensure care for my two daughters were put first. Once my youngest was ready to attend nursey, I put myself first again and I applied for a Business & Administration apprenticeship at Tameside & Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust. Within my Apprenticeship role in the Education, Training & Development Team I really absorbed as much as I could I soon realised I have a love for education and apprenticeships, I was soon offered the Level 3 Business & Administrator and given the role of Learning & Organisational Development Coordinator running Apprenticeships, Initial Assessments and Functional Skills for the Trust’s workforce, also helping in Organisational Development and the Trust’s Corporate Welcomes.

I have recently moved over to HMR Primary Care Academy as a Workforce Development Coordinator to upskill myself further into the world of Primary Care. I am excited to get into the role, working on Apprenticeships, Work Experience, Functional Skills and Traineeships! I can definitely see my future staying in ET&D as helping to upskill people is great!


Practice Education Facilitator

Deborah Holden

My career in nursing started in 2000 as an RGN at North Manchester General Hospital. I specialised as an Intensive Care Nurse for 9 years before moving on to working for skills for health, a non-profit organisation supporting commissioned and non-commissioned health care programme across the North West. In 2017 I joined Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust to support the legacy Trainee Nursing Associate Programme. I then had the opportunity to join the PEF team and continue to support TNA's and other pre-registration programmes across Midwifery, the acute and community hospital. 

I entered nursing as a mature student and have experienced a fulfilling career as well as bringing up a family. It has given me opportunities and sent me in directions I could never have imagined. The passion that I have for the profession and workforce development gets stronger as I continue to progress into my new venture the HMR Primary Care Academy.


Practice Education Facilitator

Josie Hynes

I have a passion for the education and development of the health and social care workforce which began during my time working in the dental industry as a Dental Nurse and Practice Manager. I managed mixed NHS/Private practices and supported the development of clinical and non-clinical staff to reach their potential and progress in their careers. 
I was able to further develop my skills when I joined the Skills for Health Academy supporting Clinical and Non-Clinical programmes across Greater Manchester. It was a privilege to be a part of the career journeys of so many people starting their career in a variety of job roles. During my time at the academy, I supported training programmes in Primary Care (GP and Dental) and acute hospital trusts.  
I then joined the North West Placement Development Network as a Placement Development Manager. In this role, I worked closely with GP Practices and Social Care providers to open up placement opportunities for student nurses and Allied Health Professionals. 
My next role was with the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Careers Hub as a Coordinator. I worked with various stakeholders such as schools, colleges, universities, job centres and adult education to raise awareness of the opportunities available in Greater Manchester for a rewarding health & social care career. Supporting people to be able to start their journey/change career/return to practice was very rewarding. The role was very varied as I worked with all age ranges from primary school children to adults. 
I am delighted to have now joined the HMR Primary Care Academy as a Practice Education Facilitator. I am looking forward to further developing my passion for education and development. I look forward to working with local health & social care organisations to support the development of their current and future workforce.


Allocations Coordinator

Laura O'Brien

The first job I had was working as a team member at Gregg's, however; I knew I didn't want to be serving pasties my whole life. When I was 19 I began working at Greater Manchester Police as an Apprentice Operational Support Officer. During my 3 years there I gained an NVQ Level 2 in Customer Service and a Level 3 Diploma in Business and Administration. In 2016 I left the police and moved to live with my partner in Porto, Portugal. During the 2 years I lived in Portugal, I worked as a Technical Advisor for AppleCare and spent a lot of time at the beach!! After returning to the UK I began working for Rochdale Health Alliance which led me onto working with The Primary Care Academy.
I enjoy spending time with my family and socialising with friends (usually while drinking a few gin and tonics!). I own a Miniature Dachshund called Ralph who I love taking for walks and giving lots of cuddles. I am interested in health and fitness... while still baking sweet treats and binge-watching series on Netflix.


Training and Education Coordinator

Nicola Nero

I started my career as an Outpatient Assistant in the NHS 20 years ago at Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust.  I have had varied roles during my employment with the Trust and thoroughly enjoyed all of them.

My roles have included Outpatient Receptionist, Cardiology Technical Officer, Return to Practice Administrator and Cadet Administrator.

My previous role was as a Medical Education Administrator which I have been in for the last 12 years dealing with Medical Students, GP’s and Work Experience Students.  I have also enjoyed working with Doctors at all levels and arranging all medicine teaching programmes.

I have now been given the opportunity to work with HMR Primary Care and looking forward to my new venture.

I have two grown-up sons and in my spare time, I enjoy walking and reading.  I also enjoy spending time with my family and friends.

I am a volunteer for a local charity and try to contribute when I have some spare time.


Junior Content Producer Apprentice

Hashim Ramzan

I am a diligent self-starting Digital Marketer and Junior Designer with a keen interest in technological advancements within the marketing world.

After the completion of my A’Levels in Music, Photography and Media Studies, I set out to gain marketing experience and expanding my portfolio of digital marketing work. I have had six work experiences and five of those were focused on Digital Marketing. I am currently working as an Apprentice Junior Content Producer for the Primary Care Academy. My role consists of producing video, photographic, graphic design and written content for all of the Primary Care Academy platforms. I am excited to be part of an innovative and fast-paced work environment where I believe that I’ll be able to exploit my strengths, both interpersonal and creative, as well as providing sufficient time to focus on my academic studies. Please feel free to reach out if I can be of assistance.

Outside of work I have been part of the 6th Oldham Adventurers Scouting Group for over ten years and volunteer as a Cub Scout Leader. I also have a passion for baking and coding and I like eating Pizza!


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