Dr Diana Walford CBE

Chair of the Board


Diana has worked at the highest levels in the civil service, the NHS and in higher education. Most recently, she was Principal of Mansfield College, Oxford University (2002-2011).

Having qualified in medicine at Liverpool University, after achieving a first-class honours BSc in physiology intercalated in the third year of the course, Diana trained as a haematologist and spent eight years working in hospital medicine, culminating in an honorary consultant appointment at the Central Middlesex Hospital.

She joined the then Department of Health and Social Services in 1976 to work on the assessment of the safety and efficacy of new medicines and biological drugs, such as vaccines. Diana's career in the Department progressed through a series of promotions, which included being head of the division of medical manpower and postgraduate medical education, and head of the division of international health, microbiology of food and the environment. During this time, she was awarded a sabbatical year to read for a Master’s degree in Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. For her final three years in the Department, she held the posts of Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England and Director of Healthcare/Medical Director on the NHS Management Executive.

Diana left the civil service at the end of 1992 to become director of the Public Health Laboratory Service (PHLS), a non-departmental public body with responsibility for the surveillance and prevention of infections in England and Wales. The PHLS had some 60 public health microbiology laboratories spread throughout England and Wales, together with the Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre and specialist reference laboratories at Colindale, London. With over 3,000 staff and a budget of £150m, this was a significant management job.

In 2001, nearing the end of her contract at the PHLS, Diana was elected to the Principalship of Mansfield College, Oxford, taking up post in 2002. There, among her other responsibilities, she chaired the Admissions Committee for the Conference of Colleges. The committee comprised the admissions tutors of all 30 Oxford Colleges admitting undergraduates and, under her chairmanship, a new common framework for the admissions process was agreed and implemented. In her final year at Oxford, she was appointed Pro-Vice Chancellor, deputising for the Vice-Chancellor as required.

Diana is currently deputy chair of the Council of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where she chairs its standing committee on governance; a non-executive director of University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, where she is a member of the Board’s audit and quality and safety committees; a Trustee of Sue Ryder and member of its health and social care committee; a governor of The Ditchley Foundation, and a member of the State Honours Committee. She was formerly a non-executive director of the NHS Blood and Transplant Authority.

Diana was appointed CBE in 2002 for services to public health and holds a doctorate in medicine and fellowships of the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of Pathologists, the Faculty of Public Health and an honorary fellowship of Mansfield College.

Diana took up her appointment as Chair of the Board of Trustees on 29 July 2015.