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Southend consultant’s prestigious new role

30 April 2013

Health Care

Southend University Hospital’s leading stroke specialist has landed one of the top jobs in the recent NHS reorganisation.

Dr Tony O'Brien, a consultant at Southend since 1995, has been appointed clinical director of the cardiovascular division of the new Strategic Clinical Network and Senate for the East of England, which covers a population of 5.8m people. He will provide leadership on services for stroke, heart, kidney and diabetic patients.

Clinical Senates have been created across the country to give an expert overview of healthcare for their region and provide independent advice and leadership on how health services can best be tailored to meet the specific needs of their local populations. Members are chosen for their wealth of experience, proven track record in designing health policy and for the high regard they are held in by their peers.

Dr O'Brien, who is one of four clinical directors (the others are for maternity and children, mental health and neurology and cancer) said: "We will be putting the focus back onto patients and how they recover following treatment. And we want to ensure that everybody has the same access to high-quality health services no matter where they live."

With an ageing population, vascular diseases such as blood pressure and atrial fibrillation (irregular or abnormally fast heart rate) are a common theme so Dr O'Brien's expertise will be invaluable.

"We will be looking to pick up and treat these conditions before they reach the stage where the patient needs hospital treatment.

"We want all NHS patients to have a positive experience, help them recover better from their illness and protect them both at home and in hospital."

The new role, he admits, brings with it a 'huge remit'.

Dr O'Brien, who was previously the East of England lead consultant for stroke, is also passionately committed to ensuring that patients with mental health problems get an equal deal within the NHS.

He said: "My appointment is a real honour for Southend University Hospital.  It will put us at the heart of decision-making as the clinical senate works with the clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to formulate health policy.

"The key word is improvement - we will be concentrating primarily on the outcome for patients.

"I believe I was chosen because of my background in stroke services at a regional level where I showed that I can enable change for the better to happen."