My name is Angie Smithson and I am the Chief Executive of Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (the Trust), a position I consider a real privilege to have; and which I absolutely love. I have more than 30 years of NHS experience, starting my career in nursing and midwifery in 1986, before moving into a range of leadership positions.
Running the ‘business’ means serving 400,000 people across North Derbyshire and providing services from Chesterfield Royal Hospital, Royal Primary Care’s eight GP surgeries and services based at sites across the community. We also have a subsidiary company – Derbyshire Support and Facilities Services – that provides the Trust with IT, financial services, procurement, medical engineering and estates and facilities. We look after more than 350,000 patients a year on our wards, in clinics and in our Emergency Department, test more than two million pathology samples and carry out more than 170,000 x-rays and scans.
I am passionate about making sure that we give our patients exceptional care and in my career so far I have been fortunate to put this commitment into practice. I am also equally committed to making sure that staff have a great place to work and one of the best parts of my job so far has been getting out and about to meet colleagues from all corners of the organisation. There are lots of challenges for us in the NHS, nevertheless here in Chesterfield we are committed to improving patient care, service and the workplace.
What are the main benefits of working or running a business in Chesterfield?
Since joining the Trust I’ve discovered that there are ranges of business in Chesterfield from global manufacturers to multi-national telecommunication companies. The link to transport must be an attraction from a logistics perspective and yet many businesses have fabulous outlooks over Derbyshire’s countryside, including us here at the Royal. So whilst we’re not a ‘commercial business’ in the true sense we’re a public service that benefits from the positives of a local workforce, good travel links and local support from across our communities.
Which local business would you recommend and why?
It’s early days for me, so I don’t know much about the area and what’s on offer, although I’ve been interviewed by our local radio station, Peak FM and have appeared in the Derbyshire Times, both of which have a keen following in the area. Some colleagues at work introduced me to the excellent menu on offer at The Market in Chesterfield Town Centre recently, when a group of us attended a colleague’s ‘leaving-do’ (well, leaving one department for another – we don’t need much of an excuse for a meal out!) I’ve heard there are several great eateries in the vicinity of the hospital, so I’ll be working my way around them I’m sure!
How would you describe Chesterfield to a potential visitor?
I’m new to the area, so I’m getting to know Chesterfield and the surrounding areas. Alongside the Crooked Spire and the historic market it is of course the gateway to the Peaks and Dales and of course the cities of Sheffield, Derby and Nottingham are close by – so there’s the best of both world’s for visitors looking to combine tourism with shopping. What I definitely do know, since joining the Trust, is that it is a place with a strong character and a strong sense of community. That’s evident from the support the hospital and its staff receive from local people.
Which development do you think will most benefit the town?
The developments of Chesterfield Waterside, PEAK: Gateway, Resort, Campus, Markham Vale and the Northern Gateway look set to transform the town. The town’s Premier Inn and the leisure and restaurant facilities it hopes to attract have revitalised Elder Way and should bring more people in to the town. From regeneration schemes, through to leisure development, enterprise zones and housing and retail projects there are lots of exciting proposals that will create jobs, support tourism and bring income in to North Derbyshire. The town will offer even more for businesses, residents and visitors as a result of these multi-million pound investments.
Which events are working well in Chesterfield and what kinds of events would you like to see in the future?
Colleagues have said that the food and drink festivals, artisan markets and live music have been helping the town centre to thrive at weekends. These sorts of events bring people out and it would be good to see more of those. As a health promoting hospital and GP service, events like the Sparkle Night Walk and the free swimming sessions offered at Queen’s Park are also great to see people getting involved with, so more lifestyle events would be great good– to encourage more of our communities to get involved in their own health and wellbeing.
What excites you most about the future of Chesterfield?
Aside from the developments I know about through Destination Chesterfield I’m really excited about our plans for the Trust. Working with other health and social care partners we’re hoping to radically change access to health care by creating an Urgent Care Village modernising our Emergency Department. We aim to transform services for people who come to us for urgent care, whether that be for self-care advice and help from a pharmacist, an appointment with a GP, an emergency that needs A&E care and treatment, mental health support, children’s assessments, social care support and much more. It’s potentially going to be the biggest project that we’ve seen on site since the hospital opened – and it will take us three years to bring it to fruition.
Where in Chesterfield would you recommend for a lunchtime treat?
I have to say our new Retreat@theRoyal restaurant here at the hospital! It’s open to staff, patients and visitors from 9am-3pm and serves a variety of tasty choices including some excellent vegan meals. There are lots of healthy snacks on offer – and some treats as well. If you’re on a 12 hour shift, or you’re poorly sometimes a little of what you fancy does you good! It’s all about getting the balance right.
What can we change or develop further within Chesterfield’s town centre to help it thrive?
From what I’ve gleaned about Chesterfield town centre so far it seems to have experienced what other high streets have across the country. There are clearly lots of plans in place to ‘buck the trend’ and get the town centre into a thriving, vibrant space. The opening of independent stores, more specialist market events and bringing some new high street stores to town is the right way to go.
How does working in Chesterfield differ from where you’ve worked before?
I’ve worked in lots of different places – including London and Liverpool – so I’m used to the hustle and bustle of city centres, where everyone moves at 90 miles an hour. Chesterfield has a gentler pace and it also has a friendly vibe. Certainly in the corridors of the hospital everyone says hello and smiles!
What advice would you give to someone establishing a business/beginning work in Chesterfield?
The Trust is proud to be involved with Destination Chesterfield and to champion the town and support the development of its local economy. If I were trying to decide whether Chesterfield was right for my business I’d start with the Chesterfield Champions network. With around 180 organisations, involved it would be a great option for advice and information, along with the team at Destination Chesterfield itself.