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Len Richards

Len is an established NHS leader in the UK and internationally, and has worked in the health sector for over 30 years. His current role is Chief Executive of Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.

Len has extensive expertise in leading and delivering healthcare management and working in partnership and a range of healthcare providers, including the commercial sector, to produce evidence-based results – all improving quality and supporting patient care.

He has worked on service-transformation programmes, capital-development programmes including developing a $280 million Cancer Centre, a hyper-acute stroke unit and a number of new hospitals. He has led a significant number of high-profile and sensitive clinical re-configurations involving specialist services, focussing on the improvement in quality and safety and the elimination of waste.

Len is a globally recognised leader in service transformation and reconfiguration and has delivered Foundation Trust status at an English hospital. He has successfully driven some of the largest NHS mergers of hospitals and services in England: at St Barts Health and Manchester Children’s Hospital, with Central Manchester NHS Trust.

Len has also confronted significant challenges head-on, and has demonstrated his commitment to “doing the right thing” for his organisation by controversially withdrawing from a national IT programme and implementing a more localised patient-focussed system, Cerner Millennium and Wirral Foundation Trust. He has a strong belief in working with patients, the public and politicians as part of an open culture and collaborative approach to archive the best results.

Len is an innovative leader, demonstrating global system-wide learning, collaboration and continuous improvement. He was an early adopter in the NHS of the Toyota Production System and capitalised on the results of the Virginia Mason Medical Centre in Seattle, USA successfully bringing many of the techniques and learning to a programme he developed: the “Wirral Excellence in Healthcare System”. This benefited 50 Rapid Improvement Workshops, including improving A&E performance, Length of Stay, Supply Chain Management, Breast Services and many other clinical services. Innovative work included developing “model wards” leading to a two-day reduction in length of stay.

Len has a strong track record in delivery and performance across the NHS and has developed a number of successful Cost Improvement Programmes (CIP) and Quality, innovation, Productivity and Prevention (QIPP) programmes, delivering considerable savings and efficiencies for the NHS.

Len was the Barts health lead for Emergency Preparedness for the London Olympics and utilised these skills through a Disaster Management approach in February 2015 when Cyclone Marcia, a Category 5 Cyclone, hit the Capricorn coast.
Len has a portfolio of presentations to an international audience in Sweden, Australia and the UK. He has spoken on a broad range of health matters, such as patient safety, working across boundaries and maintaining personal health.
Len is one of the founder Trustees of a charity “Improving Chances” which is focused on raising money for the provision of services to disadvantaged women and children in Fort Portal, Uganda. The charity supports the development of education and healthcare services for special-needs children and women during childbirth.

As a keen walker and advocate of physical exercise to support health and wellbeing in the workplace, Len has led teams on a variety of charitable events including the Three Peaks Challenge and an expedition to Base Camp 1, Mount Everest.
Len is 53 years old, married to his wife Jacqueline and they have three grown-up children. He is a keen skier and scuba diver and describes himself as “fanatical Newcastle United Football Club supporter”.

Chronology of positions

Len has significant NHS and leadership roles including:

  • South Australia Health, Deputy Chief Executive
  • Central Queensland Hospital and Health, Chief Executive
  • Barts Health NHS Trust, Chief Operating Officer
  • Newham University Hospital, Chief Executive
  • North West Strategic Health Authority, Director QIPP
  • Wirral University Teaching Hospital, Chief Executive
  • NHS Foundation Trust (Formerly Wirral Hospital NHS Trust)
  • Wirral Hospital NHS Trust, Chief Executive
  • Wirral Hospital NHS Trust, Deputy Chief Executive
  • Central Manchester and Manchester, Executive Director
  • Children’s University Hospitals NHS Trust, Children’s Services (Formerly Central Manchester Hospital NHS Trust).
  • Central Manchester Hospital NHS Trust, Director of Clinical Scientific
  • Leicester Royal Infirmary NHS Trust, Process Director (Surgery)
  • Leicester Royal Infirmary NHS Trust, Business Manager (O&G)
  • Good Hope NHS Trust Birmingham
  • IHG – Saudi Arabia, Management Services Officer
  • South Cumbria Health Authority, Management Services Officer
  • Thorn EMI, Production Engineer