Peter Elson speaks to AIDAN KEHOE, new chief executive of Royal Liverpool University Hospital
AIDAN KEHOE is the first in his family to work in the health world, but there is a poignant reason for his choice.
One of four brothers, his sibling Michael, younger by a year, died aged 19 after a life-long struggle with spina bifida.
“We spent a lot of time at Alder Hey Hospital,” recalled Mr Kehoe, who was born in Warrington and brought up in Knotty Ash.
“Seeing what the top experts did for him and the difference it made to us as a family was exceptional as everything was done to give his life a boost and extend it further.
“I’m not from a wealthy family and that experience was a big driver for my choice of career. It was humbling to see professionals of a national level working to make things better for ordinary people like us.
“My father was a taxi driver but became an area sales manager at Lyons Bakery and my mother was a teacher at Dovecot Infants’ School.
“For me, taking care of everyone’s health is what the National Health Service is all about.”
Interestingly, it was the management aspect of medical care that interested him rather than training to go into a medical career.
“I like organising things and seeing improvements. I’ve always been interested in how you can make an impact on large numbers of patients.
“If you get it right, you touch the lives of many, many people. It’s unbelievable what the NHS has done for people in its time.
“Other countries envy what we’ve got – even Germany and Scandinavia – and we should be very, very proud.
“No other health service has lower management costs than us, which is astonishing when you see what is free at the point of delivery.
“The privatised US system is far more bureaucratic and costly to run. While there are centres of excellence, in general its health care is not as good as ours.”
Educated at St Margaret’s and St Mary’s Junior School, Dovecot, and West Park RC High, St Helens, he went on to study at Aston University, Birmingham.
After NHS management training and a six-year stint as a fully-qualified chartered accountant with KPMG, he returned to the public sector health service and held senior roles at Rampton Hospital Trust, University Hospitals Birmingham Trust and Salford Royal Trust.
In spite of being an accountant with 20 years embedded in the heath service, he is a remarkably open and warm character, who on my visit knew the names of his staff on the hospital’s main reception desk.
Formerly chief executive at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals for three years (overseeing its conversion into a trust), he has arrived as chief executive at the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust in interesting times.
“I love working for the NHS, but previously there was never the right job to come back to at the right time.
“But I always wanted to work in Liverpool and this was always the job that I aspired to.