While we all may acknowledge the medical qualities of our NHS in Gloucestershire, we often do not realise that it is a huge business in its own right.
Indeed, the NHS here is our largest employer in the county by a mile and a huge contributor to our economy with an annual expenditure of £1 billion.
That places the NHS - our hospitals and associated care services - at the very heart of the county’s economy.
To illustrate that, Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Trust recently announced new capital expenditure to the tune of over £100 million to be spent mostly on building and infrastructure.
This, of course, helps our local business supply chains.
Leadership of this huge business is so important with over 9,000 people working in our hospitals alone.
So, it was a privilege for me last week to attend one of the University of Gloucestershire’s graduation ceremonies where one of those NHS leaders - Peter Lachecki - was recognised.
As Chair of the Gloucestershire NHS Hospitals Trust, Peter received an honorary fellowship for his career with the National Health Service and his support in developing the university’s portfolio of nursing and Allied Health degree programmes.
I remember the time not many years ago when the hospitals trust was struggling with a huge financial black hole.
Peter, who is retiring after almost six years as chair of the trust, piloted the hospitals through some very stormy waters. He is a former senior executive at Kraft and is also much in demand as a leadership consultant.
Running hospitals here, he has had great support from chief executive Deborah Lee, who has in my view given really strong leadership to the teams in the challenging period of COVID.
Recruitment to the NHS is very challenging - currently there are over 93,000 vacancies nationally. We must, therefore, also praise the efforts of the University of Gloucestershire in developing nursing degree programmes here.
The NHS is perhaps our greatest institution, but it is also one of the biggest businesses with more employees in the UK than any other sector.
And the much vaunted integration of social care with our hospital services will only be achieved if we have business minds like Peter Lachecki helping to steer the NHS ship.