With a remit that covers all the way from Northumbria right down to Devon, Cornwall and London – Wendy Brooks and her team at NHS North-East London CSU have a diverse portfolio of work to contend with. With significant restructuring and change going on across the organisations she covers, Wendy’s work predominately focuses on programme work up and down the country, working with ICS partners, CCGs, GP Practices alongside many prisons and police custody suites.
Private to Public
Starting off her career in the Private Sector, Wendy contracted for many years working in a range of different settings from Solicitors Offices all the way through to Pub Chains. After taking a contract at a Mental Health Trust in Swale, Wendy started to look for permanent positions in the NHS.
“You could really see the difference in the types of people that work in the NHS and you feel every person in the NHS treats colleagues like they’re part of the family.”
The togetherness within the NHS is commonplace in the discussions I have with NHS professionals with a level of comradery rarely seen in other industries.
“No matter which department you work in, you will always find someone who is willing to help and go that extra mile. We do phenomenally long hours and we do it because we won’t leave people stranded.”
We Need to Keep up with the Changing Environment
To enable the kind of rapid decision making that a pandemic level event necessitates, layers of governance were stripped away from the NHS. In the interest of ‘getting things done’, teams like Wendy’s were able to provide increased levels of service.
In the NHS, as in most organisations, governance exists for a reason. For one of the world’s biggest employers which is funded publicly, governance is necessary to maintaining the NHS’s status as a responsible institution that, first and foremost, serves the public. Regardless, the forward momentum gathered by the NHS, made possible by the relaxation of governance, cannot be ignored.
For Wendy, the ‘red tape’ imposed by the necessary level of governance has been a challenge when it comes to certain aspects of her role.
“Things like recruitment, or getting an agency staffing or being able to raise a purchase order, for example, can all be challenging.”
With the rapid advancement of many systems within the NHS, the need to get the right skill sets in quickly and efficiently heightens.
“The demand is outstripping the number of people out there with the right skills to do it. At the moment, it’s quite challenging to find those skill sets.”
NHS Knowledge is Key
For Wendy, having a firm understanding of the NHS as an organisation is key to success in a Programme Management position. Merging that with keen soft skills makes for a winning combination that will set a Programme Manager up for success in the NHS.
“I think NHS experience is probably the biggest. That and the ability to communicate with a range of different stakeholders in a way that they understand.”
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