A former RAF officer from Cheltenham with a passion for shaping local health services will help to lead the county’s independent health and care champion.

Alan Thomas has been appointed Interim Chair of Healthwatch Gloucestershire’s Shadow Steering Group and will help to develop the role of the organisation in the county.

Healthwatch Gloucestershire, based in Quedgeley, listens to what people like about local health and care services, and what could be improved.  These views are then shared with the decision-making organisations in the county, to help shape local services for the better.

Alan’s personal and family experience with health and care issues motivated him to help improve the quality of care for people in Gloucestershire.

Alan explained: “My family has experienced a wide range of long-term health conditions over the years which have required the assistance of a variety of health and social care services, some here in Gloucestershire. I am keen to put something back into the system that has helped me over many years.

“I am excited by the prospect of being able to begin to shape an approach to the representation of views on health and social care in Gloucestershire that will build on the excellent work done already.

“As this is only an interim position, my initial aim will be to develop the basis of a structured volunteer force that will help achieve an evidenced view on services in health and social care.”

Alan, who is now retired, spent many years in teaching and in the Royal Air Force as a Training Officer, where he worked for 23 years.  Married, he has three children and three grandchildren.  Since retiring four years ago, he has become increasingly involved as a volunteer in the governance of local NHS services.

Chris Graves, chair of Evolving Communities – the parent community interest company of Healthwatch Gloucestershire, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Alan and believe he will make a significant contribution in Gloucestershire.

“One of the key roles of the Steering Group will be to agree the priorities for Healthwatch Gloucestershire.  Alan’s vast experience both on a work and personal level means he has a real passion for shaping local health and care services and is keen to work with local people to help achieve this.”

For more information on Healthwatch Gloucestershire or to find out how to volunteer with the organisation call 01452 504989, email info@healthwatchgloucestershire.co.uk or visit healthwatchgloucestershire.co.uk