Mary Watkins, Baroness Watkins of Tavistock sits as a Crossbench Peer in the House of Lords and is Visiting Professor in the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Palliative Care, King’s College London; President of the Florence Nightingale Foundation and is a former Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Plymouth University. She is currently alternate chair of Nursing Now, a global initiative to raise the profile of nursing, and in this role was co-chair of the World Health Organisation’s review of the State of the World Nursing which reported in 2020.
Qualifying as a general nurse in 1976 and a mental health nurse in 1979, Professor Watkins worked in community, in-patient mental health and acute settings, providing non-emergency and emergency healthcare.
Made a Nightingale Scholar in 1985, Professor Watkins was appointed Dean of the then Faculty of Health and Social Work at Plymouth in 2003, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Health) in 2005 and Deputy Vice-Chancellor in 2007.
Professor Watkins has a particular interest in governance having been a Secretary of State nominee to the UKCC for Nursing and Midwifery (1996-2001) and was a member of the UKCC Education Commission – the Peach Review, 1999. She has held a variety of charitable trustee roles including Dementia Care (Bristol), Cornwall Care and the Burdett Trust for Nursing.
She was a member of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NIHCE) Appraisal Panel (2001-2007). In addition, she was a board member of the South Western Ambulance Trust for a 6-year term including a period as the Senior Independent Director (2011-2017).
Professor Watkins has an interest in housing – a key determinant of health and is currently Non-executive director at Southern Housing and was previously a non-executive board member of Aster Housing.
Previous appointments in the educational domain include chairing Acorn Academy Cornwall (2013-2015) and Marine Academy Plymouth (2011-2014).
In the House of Lords, Professor Watkins contributes regularly in the domains of health, education and housing and sits on the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee, and has recently been appointed Deputy Speaker.
Her academic qualifications include a Master’s in Nursing (distinction), University of Wales and a Doctor of Philosophy (Science), King’s College London. As a life-long learner she has taken the opportunity to develop her management and leadership skills. Professor Watkins attended the Civil Service Top Management programme (2005) and the High Potential Leadership programme at Harvard Business School (2010).
Professor Watkins is an international expert in nursing and healthcare delivery.