Hegarty will head up a 16-strong team of comms pros working across eight boroughs in north west London as the individual clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) move into a single management structure.
Covering two million residents across the City of Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea, Hammersmith & Fulham, Hounslow, Hillingdon, Ealing, Brent, and Harrow, the healthcare area includes 400 GP practices, 10 hospitals and four mental health and community health trusts.
"It’s an exciting time to join the North West London Collaboration of CCGs, as the eight CCGs are moving to a single management structure, while looking to strengthen our partnerships with our local councils and the voluntary sector," Hegarty told PRWeek.
"There will be big internal and external comms challenges, but we’re ultimately talking about a whole new approach to delivering healthcare to local people.
"There will be much more focus on keeping people well, helping them before conditions get worse and getting the whole system working together around the needs of individual people.
"Making this happen is a big challenge and we need to keep involving local people in shaping our plans – a key part of my job will be making sure that happens.
"The NHS and other services on our patch are also continuing to deal with the impacts of the dreadful tragedy at Grenfell Tower, which continues to have far-reaching implications."
Hegarty joined the organisation on 4 June, following a seven-year stint as director of comms and engagement at South West London NHS, and almost three years in a similar role in south east London.
In these roles, Hegarty led on comms and public engagement during the development of Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships between the NHS and local authorities, which arose from the NHS Five Year Forward View and aims to improve health and care in 44 areas across England.
"We pioneered new ways of reaching and hearing from the public about their local services – including partnership work with Healthwatch and the voluntary sector," explained Hegarty.
During his time working on the change programmes, Hegarty organised and chaired a national comms seminar on communicating NHS service change, leading to the publication of an NHS Confederation paper, Reconfigure It Out.
Other career highlights include being director of comms at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and West London Mental Health Trust, which includes Broadmoor Hospital.
Prior to the NHS, Hegarty worked in the voluntary sector, including leading comms for Carers UK.
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