“For me it’s the equivalent of becoming manager of Liverpool Football Club, of which I’m a long-time season ticket holder.
“It says a lot about destiny – you don’t know what it is until it happens and then you realise how things fit together.”
The Royal is in the North West’s big three (along with the two main Manchester teaching hospitals). It employs 5,500 staff dealing with 85,000 in-patients annually plus A&E out- patients.
He still commutes from the home he shares in Blackpool with his partner.
Replacing the entire hospital building is poised to happen, but isn’t signed off yet by the Treasury or the Ministry of Health.
“There’s massive consensus and we’re confident it will get government support and approval before the New Year,” he enthused.
“I hope the sign-off will be in a few weeks’ time and we’ll certainly get the green light in the New Year. Then we have to find the appropriate builder out of two bidders.
“There’s plenty more to be done and in any project of this kind you get changes in the people involved.”
In this case there has been a change of government and inevitably the Coalition ministers want to review their commitment.
“So let’s get the deal finalised and the hospital built. It’s got to happen,” he said.
“My job is making sure of high quality of care and safety for patients. We’ve got enthusiastic people who are at the top of the tree nationally with great ideas.”
Justification for the £450m new hospital is the soaring maintenance bill for the current 1970s building and better hygiene control.
The new build will provide all patients with single rooms on wards.
“Obviously, the trust is concerned about controlling infections and a move towards single rooms will be a huge boost to patient management.”
With a proposed opening in 2017, it will be the biggest new build hospital project in the UK in recent years.
Once the new Royal is up and running and the current building demolished, the plan is to place a Bio-Campus on the site, by 2019.