The man in charge of health services for 330,000 people in north east Wales has pledged to ensure the public’s voice is heard.
Rob Smith is Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s East Area Director, overseeing the healthcare needs of those living in Flintshire and Wrexham.
He is one of three area directors brought in by BCUHB as part of its new structure, with the aim to reconnect with the communities it serves across the region.
Mr Smith has more than 25 years of experience in the NHS, and was previously Director of Operations at the renowned Clatterbridge Cancer Centre on the Wirral.
He says his new role provides a “brilliant opportunity” to improve health services across the region and crucial to the process is listening as a closely as possible to what the public says.
He is responsible to BCUHB for the management of community hospitals at Deeside, Chirk and Mold and also oversees community and GP services.
He said: “We have an excellent opportunity for the health board to engage and listen to the views of the local population about how best we can provide integrated health services.
“We will be working together with the local authorities, GPs and other partner organisations to ensure that health services are developed around the needs of the people using the services. For example, wherever possible we need to care for the frail and elderly in their own homes, rather than admit into hospital.
Mr Smith, who is married with two teenage sons, spends his spare time reading, playing various sports and helping to coach his son’s rugby union team.
He added: “Another advantage with the board’s new area structure is that I will work closely with Wrexham and Flintshire county councils, in order to develop high quality services in partnership with them.
“While we have the formal process for engaging with the public it must not be forgotten that we also have many people working for us and the feedback we get from them and their families about our services is also important.
“Through managing their services I have a lot of contact with local GPs – for most people the first contact they have with the health service is through their GP, so listening to what they have been told by their patients is important to us too.”
“I’m really enjoying my job. It’s a brilliant opportunity to improve the services we provide in North Wales and I have been really impressed with how committed members of my own team and people I have met from other organisations and other organisations are to achieving that aim.”
He is originally from Essex and now lives in Warrington with his wife and two teenage sons.
He started his career as a graduate management trainee at the world-famous Bart’s Hospital in London in 1990 and moved on to hold a series of senior NHS positions in the London area before moving to the north west of England 13 years ago.
He worked for health authorities in Stockport and Warrington & Halton before spending four years as Director of Operations at the renowned Clatterbridge Cancer Centre on the Wirral – the job he left to take up his present position with the BCUHB.
BCUHB Interim Chief Executive Simon Dean, who is also Deputy Chief Executive of NHS Wales, said: “Our long-term engagement strategy is centred on building and strengthening relationships with partners, communities and individuals so that we become a more visible, listening organisation.
“Our newly established area teams in the east, central and west are key in helping us to deliver this.
“It is essential that we listen to what is said by the public and our staff, and act on that information so the health service reflects the needs of those who live and work in North Wales. We have already begun to do this, and we will be continuing it into 2016 and further ahead.”
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board is the largest health organisation in Wales, employing around 16,100 staff. It provides a full range of primary, community, mental health and acute hospital services for a population of around 676,000 people across North Wales as well as some parts of mid Wales, Cheshire and Shropshire.
It runs Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor, Ysbyty Glan Clwyd in Bodelwyddan and Wrexham Maelor Hospital as well as 18 other acute and community hospitals and a network of over 90 health centres, clinics, community health team bases and mental health units. The Health Board also coordinates the work of 115 GP practices and NHS services provided by North Wales dentists, opticians and pharmacies.
BCUHB’s new chief executive is Gary Doherty, currently Chief Executive of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and previously Deputy Chief Executive of Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.