In September of 2016 I joined Chesterfield Royal Hospital as its Chief Executive – my first role in the county of Derbyshire. I’ve worked in the NHS for more than 25 years, but have previously been based in Yorkshire and Manchester. I was Chief Executive at Sheffield Children’s Hospital for five years before joining the Royal, and my other Chief Executive positions were for Primary Care Trusts (as they were formerly known) in Doncaster and Bradford.
I consider it a real privilege to have this opportunity. The hospital has grown considerably since it moved from the town centre to its ‘new’ site in Calow, back in 1984 (I’ve noticed people still call it the ‘new’ Royal even after all these years!) but it still has a welcoming and friendly feel. I want to make sure we perform well so local people know that they will get the best possible care and experience when they come into our hospital. I also want to make sure that we improve not just the care we give to patients, but also the workplace for our 3,700 valuable staff.
The area is still very new to me – and I’m getting to find my way around slowly but surely. I travel to work each day from Penistone, where I live with my wife and our three daughters.
1. What’s your best memory of the town?
I’m still discovering more about Chesterfield – as well as towns and villages across North Derbyshire but I’ve been really impressed with what I have seen so far. Next time I visit County Hall I want to stop off and have a walk around Matlock. I have some memories of visiting there and Matlock Bath riverside illuminations when I was about 11 or 12. Matlock has the feel of a spa town about it – so I’d like to have a closer look!
2. What development do you think will make the biggest difference to the town?
The developments of Chesterfield Waterside, Peak, Markham Vale, Chesterfield Elder Way and the Northern Gateway all look set to transform the town. From regeneration, through to leisure development, enterprise zones and housing and retail schemes these are 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.
3. How would you describe Chesterfield to someone who has never visited?
That’s a tricky one being new to the area. What I do know, from joining the hospital, 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.
4. What are the positives of running a business here?
There’s a range 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. Whilst we’re not a ‘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.
5. Who or what do you turn to in Chesterfield for business advice?
Developing the hospital is a more complex process because we’re a public organisation, accountable for spending public money. The plans, strategies and schemes we put in place all take into account the views of staff, our patients and the public. We have a staff partnership committee and Forum, and we discuss ideas with people in many different ways, from conversations at the patient bedside through to social media. The Board of Directors at the hospital is accountable to its Council of Governors – the elected and appointed body that represents patients, staff and the communities we serve. There’s also health and social care partners, education, voluntary services, national bodies and regulators to consider, not to mention government guidance and statutory rules and regulations. So there is no shortage of advice, guidance and support network available to help us make the right decisions.
6. Why did you choose to base your business in Chesterfield?
In my case it was already well-established!
7. Who do you admire in the community?
Without sounding clichéd I admire all the staff who work hard to care for our patients and provide services in the hospital. No matter what role they have at the Royal they all contribute massively to our success. It’s a real team effort and I think highly of them – and indeed all the staff who work incredibly hard in the NHS.
8. What are the aspirations of your business?
There are some huge challenges for the NHS, but I believe that the Royal’s strength lies in the close partnerships and relationships it has. By working with others we can lead and shape the new services that will transform how we look after people’s health and well-being. The NHS is changing and I am looking forward to taking the Royal forward – and to help it thrive as it makes its own choices about its future. We want to continue to provide a fantastic place to work for our staff.
9. What advice would you give to someone establishing a business here?
The hospital is proud to be involved with Destination Chesterfield and to champion the town and support the development of its local economy. I guess if I were trying to decide whether Chesterfield was right for my business I’d start with the Champions Network. With more than 160 organisations involved it would be a great option to target for advice and information, along with the team at Destination Chesterfield itself.