Trust chair Robina Shah spends an exhausting day in the shadow of health secretary Patricia Hewitt

Trust chair Robina Shah spends an exhausting day in the shadow of health secretary Patricia Hewitt

The NHS landscape is changing at such.a pace, sometimes you are left gasping for breath before the next array of reforms present themselves..

NHS trusts are known to embrace the challenges they constantly face as part of everyday life. However, I have often wondered what it is like at Richmond House, where health policy is born, nurtured and then rolled out.across the NHS.

Recently, I had the opportunity to find out by shadowing health secretary.Patricia Hewitt..

Arriving at Richmond House on Monday morning, I met a typical.flurry of activity. I was greeted warmly by the health secretary.and then it was down to business.

Throughout the day, I sat with Ms Hewitt in back-to-back meetings that operated like clockwork. When one meeting finished, the next one started so seamlessly it appeared.almost effortless. .

By 5pm, having observed and heard the discussions of high-level executives including.the permanent secretary, the chief executive of the NHS and several senior advisers and specialist advisers, as well as a national czar and his team, a strategic health authority.chair and a chief executive, I was exhausted.

Gruelling day

The day was not over, however..The next round was to include a stock-take with the team of.health ministers. After that,.I felt ready for home, unlike Ms Hewitt, who had another engagement to attend and who would eventually finish her gruelling schedule at about 10pm.

Whatever anyone might think about the activities at Richmond House, one thing is for certain. People at all levels there work tremendously hard. I was very impressed by the efficient way in which everyone supported each other to ensure the agenda remained focused and concise and delivered outcomes for action.

The discussions I observed were varied, diverse, challenging and fascinating. Throughout them all, the health secretary.remained engaged and demonstrated a personable manner and a great ability to convey constructive dialogue, even when faced with challenging matters. Her energy was tiring to watch. I came away with the deepest respect for her and all the colleagues I met on that day.

It was a great journey that will remain with me for a very long time.

Robina Shah is chair of Stockport foundation trust.