AFTER 45 years in the NHS the director of Withybush Hospital has hung up his stethoscope.

Colleagues are bidding farewell to Dr Iain Robertson-Steel who started his medical career as a student at Birmingham in 1973.

Dr Robertson-Steel qualified 1979, working in various clinical roles in England, before joining the Royal Air Force and took up his post as junior medical officer based at RAF Brawdy in Pembrokeshire in 1980.

Some years later he moved to the Royal Wolverhampton Hospital where he was appointed Consultant in 1994, after which he worked for West Midlands Ambulance Service and NHS Direct before returning to Wales in 2006.

More recently, he was the hospital director at Withybush Hospital and county director and commissioner for Pembrokeshire with Hywel Dda University Health Board.

Withybush Hospital has seen a number of significant changes under Dr Robertson-Steel’s leadership, including the Emergency & Urgent Care Unit (A&E), the charity fundraiser supported Pembrokeshire Haematology & Oncology Day Unit, the Paediatric Ambulatory Care Unit, the Medical Day Unit, the Discharge Lounge and the Adult Ambulatory Care Unit.

He has also been pivotal in securing a number of excellent consultant appointments in the hospital’s A&E, care of the elderly, palliative care, general medicine specialties, as well as ensuring that the current GP training scheme is full to capacity, said Hywel Dda Health Board.

As he steps down Dr Robertson-Steel has reiterated his backing of proposed health board changes planned for the future, saying: “I have loved every minute of my career in the NHS, particularly here in Pembrokeshire and, whilst I am sad to leave at a time of great opportunity for change in the future, it’s the right time personally for me to follow other interests in my life.

“I firmly believe the health board’s proposal to radically change local healthcare services is the right thing to do, for the hospital, the local population and the health board in the future. There is a clear need for significant modernisation and I’m confident that the Transforming Clinical Services programme will deliver a successful model for the future. It’s our last chance to get it right.

“I am honoured to have worked with the amazing and talented staff at Withybush Hospital and in the community - I have never been part of a more dedicated and committed team. I am thankful for their support over the years and pay tribute to them for their professionalism and hard work in continuing to provide the best possible care to our local population, especially during times of extreme pressure.”

Joe Teape, director of operations and deputy chief executive added: “Dr Robertson-Steel has been a well-liked, respected and extremely valued member of our team both in his leadership role at Withybush Hospital and across the wider health board. He has shown great commitment, dedication and leadership and will be greatly missed by us all. On a personal level Iain has always been willing to provide advice and support and I sincerely wish him all the best in his retirement.”

Dr Robertson-Steel will continue to live in Pembrokeshire, the place he calls home, having loved bringing up his family here.

He plans to continue in his role as a local magistrate, spend more time with his growing family, including supporting his daughter as she too trains to be a doctor, and sailing in Solva.

A recruitment process is underway to appoint his successor.