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UHBW NHS FT chief executive to retire

University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW) chief executive, Robert Woolley, has today announced plans to retire next year after a long and distinguished career in the NHS spanning more than 30 years.

Robert Woolley - news item

Robert was appointed chief executive of the Trust in 2010 and during his tenure has overseen multiple successes – including leading the organisation from a Care Quality Commission (CQC) rating of ‘requires improvement’ straight to two successive ratings of ‘outstanding’ in 2017 and 2019 respectively, when the CQC praised the culture of the organisation, saying ‘the values and vision for the Trust placed people who used services at the centre’.

Robert told staff: “It has been the privilege of my life to serve such fantastic, committed and caring people and I am inordinately proud of all of your achievements – including but not limited to the redevelopment of the Bristol Royal Infirmary and the Children’s Hospital, being only the third general acute Trust in England to be rated Outstanding twice by the CQC, seeing Bristol Health Partners become an Academic Health Science Centre and completing our merger between Bristol and Weston last year. Above all, I have been humbled by the professionalism, teamwork and resilience I have seen from all of you in responding to the pandemic and which I continue to see every day.”

Jayne Mee, UHBW interim chair, said: “Over his 11 years as chief executive, Robert has shown tireless dedication to engaging staff and supporting them to deliver the best possible care to patients. His passion for improvement and his strategic insight, always delivered in a calm and measured way, together with his commitment to system leadership, mean he is highly esteemed inside and outside the Trust and has delivered demonstrable benefits for patients.”

Robert was rated by the Health Service Journal as a top chief executive in 2018, 2019 and 2021. In 2019, he was awarded the Honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from the University of the West of England in recognition of his contribution to the health service in Bristol and the South West.

Robert will stand down at the end of March 2022, having extended his plan for retirement already to lead the organisation through the pandemic. He said he felt that the start of a new financial year would be the right time to hand over to a successor to lead the Trust through “the next phase of its journey into new and collaborative ways of caring for patients”. The Trust is expected to start recruiting for a replacement shortly.