Professor Steve Field CBE, Group Chair of The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust and Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, has announced he is to step down from the role when his term comes to an end on 31 March this year.
Professor Field, who has been at the helm in Wolverhampton since 2019, and added Walsall to his portfolio in 2021, said he would look back over his time with “immense pride.”
He said: “I am pleased that now my term has come to a natural end I will be able to spend more time with my family and will be making a move to live in Cornwall enabling me to slow down a little and enjoy my retirement.
“Having grown up in the Black Country, it has been a real privilege to give something back to a part of the country that I love – where many of my family and friends continue to live and use the local health services.
“I will continue with a few other commitments, including my recent appointment as an unpaid special ambassador for healthcare working for the UK government. I intend to take this opportunity to give these commitments the time they demand and deserve.
“I will look back on my time as Group Chair with immense pride. I was very open and honest about some of the challenges we faced in Walsall in particular, but I am delighted at the progress that we have all made improving the quality of care for patients. Working in even closer partnership with Wolverhampton has brought about many benefits for our committed, hard-working staff, and nothing makes me happier than hearing their enthusiasm for this partnership and being able to share their achievements.
“Both Wolverhampton and Walsall have rightly received many plaudits because of ground-breaking integrated care work. This has included close partnership working with both councils which has been both very productive and very enjoyable.”
Professor Field is a GP who was a former chief inspector at the CQC, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, Chair of the government’s ‘Future Forum’ review in 2011, and Chair of the NHS Constitution Advisory Forum.
He paid tribute to Group Chief Executive, Professor David Loughton CBE.
He added: “Being able to work with someone who cares just as deeply about our patients and the services we offer them, as well as the health and wellbeing of our teams who care for them, is vitally important to me. I have appreciated David’s support, input and energy during my time here and wish him all the best as he continues to lead the organisations.”
During Professor Field’s term:
Emergency Department performance at Walsall Manor Hospital has regularly received national recognition, including visits from NHSE, for its relatively low ambulance handover delays with some of the best performance in the country.
The NHSE Infection Prevention Control rating was upgraded to GREEN from RED with Walsall Healthcare being congratulated on how teams worked together to deliver clean, safe patient care.
An improvement has been shown at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust in the performance against key CQC indicators.
The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust has been consistently rated as Good by the CQC, maintaining financial stability for several years. It is regularly considered to be one of the most innovative and highly performing Trusts in the country in relation to the staff survey.
Strong and visible clinical and operational leadership has been established across both sites, supported by the development of a group infrastructure that brings greater consistency, sustainability, and efficiency to the corporate areas.
Both organisations are working closely to develop the Black Country Provider Collaborative which has led to much greater co-operation across the Black Country Trusts leading to improvements in access and care for patients.
Professor Field added that work would continue on the joint Trust Strategy that had been developed as well as workforce retention and recruitment. He highlighted the successes at Wolverhampton that had brought about a significant reduction in agency spend and said this approach was being implemented in Walsall.
Professor Loughton said: “We are sorry to see Steve leave his role, but we understand and support his reasons for doing so and want him to realise how invaluable his contribution has been during his time with us.
“Achieving greater integration between two organisations is never without its challenges but Steve has ensured we’ve always had patients and staff at the heart of everything we do. We wish him all the best for the future – an equally busy future by all accounts!”
An announcement about a replacement Chair will be shared in due course.