February 18, 2013

Why We Do What We Do: Patrick Geoghegan

Patrick Geoghegan, OBE, is the first to say that he had no career plan. “I was driven by my passion to do something different,” he proclaims. “And, I looked for every opportunity to actually make that difference.”

In the field of health care for more than 40 years, Patrick has pushed for system reform and transformed mental health services. He currently serves as chief executive for the South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (SEPT) – a partner of GHLI. SEPT provides integrated care to local communities including mental health, learning disability and social care services.

Growing up in Ireland, Patrick went to school to become an accountant but quickly realized that wasn’t his calling. He then joined the priesthood, where he assisted mentally ill people and underprivileged communities. He saw that persons with mental health issues are more likely to die 20 years sooner than others because of neglect to their health. The exposure to the daily lives of these disadvantaged groups fueled his desire to help in everyway he could. Though his work with the church was rewarding, Patrick could not make the type of change he wanted behind the walls of a monastery.

To become more directly involved with health care, Patrick moved to England to work at a hospital. He quickly worked his way up from porter to nurse to senior manager to director to chief executive. “I strive to make sure services are available to people and reach out to vulnerable groups -- those who may not know how to access services,” adds Patrick. To help ensure patients receive quality care, he helped establish a feedback system where random patients review their experiences. Both the community and staff praised this initiative for improving doctor patient interactions.

Throughout his career, Patrick always pushed boundaries, questioned policy and stood up to defend those at the corners of his community. He aims to be the voice of the smaller groups who tend to go without because they don’t know how to be heard in the system. 

Patrick is excited to continue working with GHLI and thrilled about the progress the organizations have made in Ghana, but he also looks forward to training the next generation of leaders and passing the torch to future visionaries.

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