Last month, colleagues past and present gathered together at an event to mark the official retirement of Rob Sneyd, Professor of Anaesthesia and Dean of the University of Plymouth Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry since 1998.
Rob had worked as a Consultant Anaesthetist at Derriford Hospital since 1993, mostly focusing on neuro-anaesthesia. A founding member of the Plymouth Neuro-anaesthesia group, he helped University Hospitals Plymouth to become the first NHS Trust in the UK to be accredited by the Royal College of Anaesthetists for the safe delivery of both general and neuro-anaesthetic services.
A valedictory symposium was held in his honour in September, featuring a number of high profile speakers, including Professor Ravi Mahajan, President of the Royal College of Anaesthetists and Dr Ramani Moonesinghe, National Institute for Academic Anaesthesia (NIAA) Health Services Research Centre Director. The opening address was delivered by Sir John Tooke, former President of the Academic of Medical Sciences and the Inaugural Dean of the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry.
“Although Rob formally retired in July, we wanted to do something to celebrate his achievements,” explains Dr Gary Minto, Associate Director of Research, Development and Innovation at University Hospitals Plymouth, who is also a Consultant Anaesthetist at Derriford Hospital. “He is a giant of medical education and research, and an international statesman in anaesthesia. It’s a fitting testimony to his standing in the perioperative medicine community that when we came up with our wish list of the very best speakers we could imagine for this symposium, absolutely everybody we asked said yes!”
When Rob started his career, there were no medical schools in Devon and Cornwall. Now, at the time of his retirement there are two, and Rob played a significant role in the establishment of both of them. The schools within the University of Plymouth Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry are now highly ranked in UK league tables and have trained over 2,000 professionals since their creation, bringing direct healthcare benefits to many thousands of patients in the local community.
Rob also established and was the inaugural Chairman of the Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise, targeting dental care for deprived areas of Plymouth. It has so far treated over 15,000 NHS patients.
“What really typifies Rob is his commitment to Plymouth, as well as his generosity toward the development of the careers of others, especially women in science,” adds Gary. “He may have been the Vice President of the Royal College of Anaesthetists, a driving force in healthcare education, and a highly sought-after international conference speaker, but at the end of the day he was still here at Derriford every week for his theatre list in brain surgery, and always available with a word of advice to young researchers.
“His high-quality care has benefited thousands of critically-ill patients and his enthusiasm, drive and visionary thinking will leave its legacy for many years to come.”
Professor Hisham Khalil, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Plymouth, said: “It’s difficult to surmise quite how much impact Rob has had on the medical community in the South West – from students starting their journey to researchers at the top of their field, he has supported everyone to achieve their best and really helped to put the South West on the map.”