TRIBUTES have poured in for a much-loved Swindon health boss who died after suffering from cancer.

Caroline Fowles, the joint chief executive of NHS Swindon and director of adult social care services at Swindon Council, was recently diagnosed with the disease and had been treated near her home in Gloucester.

Mrs Fowles, 53, who worked for the NHS for more than 30 years, passed away peacefully during her sleep in the early hours of Saturday morning.

She leaves her husband Mike, who she married on February 13, and other family members.

NHS Swindon chairwoman Michelle Howard said: “Caroline was the inspirational leader of NHS Swindon for over three years. She was instrumental in leading the organisation on a path of ground breaking integration with Swindon Council with the aim of ensuring Swindon residents receive the seamless care they deserve.

“Caroline bore her illness with dignity and courage and her death is a great loss for us all, not just to us at the PCT, but also to her colleagues in the council and to the wider health and social care community.”

She began her career in London and during the 1990s worked for Gloucestershire Health Authority.

In 2001 she was appointed project director to the Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Primary Care Group (PCG). When it became a trust, Mrs Fowles took on the role as chief executive. She then became joint chief executive of NHS Swindon and director of adult social care services at the council in 2006.

Under her leadership achievements included improving the performance of both NHS Swindon and adult social care services while social services became a two star service.

She was a strong advocate for those less advantaged and strongly believed public services could be transformed to enable people to have more control over their lives.

Gavin Jones, Swindon Council’s chief executive, said: “Caroline’s death is a great loss to the council, the PCT and the wider community. It goes without saying that Caroline will be greatly missed by all her colleagues.

“I personally will miss the energy and enthusiasm that she brought to the council’s leadership team.

“She cared deeply about the work she did and her determination to make a difference was infectious.

“Our thoughts are with Caroline’s family and friends.”

South Swindon MP Anne Snelgrove said: “I will miss her wise counsel and sensitive handling of difficult issues very much, and send heartfelt condolences to her family, friends and workmates.”