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  • August 27, 2021
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In Conversation with Sam Neville, Chief Nursing Information Officer at MSE Hospitals Group


Sam is managing a team of three nurses and one midwife across a large portfolio of work, which covers three recently merged sites. 

A registered General Nurse, Sam has a background in surgery, othopaedics and medicine. Achieving Matron at Mid-South Essex, Sam moved into digital projects with electronic patient observations. Serving to whet her appetite for digital, Sam’s mind quickly ran wild with possible applications of technology in a clinical context.  

When the opportunity came round for her to stay and work in digital, Sam took it with both hands.  

“My role looks at the systems that we’re putting in and what data we can get out for improvement, which is the bit I’m just getting into at the moment, because we’re trying to merge 300 different systems.” 

Sam is the first to admit that there was big leap from her Matron role to her new one in digital – but she isn’t looking back and her own experiences on the Ward are proving invaluable as she picks up the technical side of things and starts to translate it for her clinical colleagues in key digital projects now and in the future.  

Uniforms on the Back of Doors 

Digital transformation as a phrase has become a bit of a buzzword. It’s easy to forget that the process of transformation, especially when it’s within an institution like the NHS, is a challenging one that draws in many different stakeholders at varying levels of seniority.  

When it comes to Health Technology, stakeholders aren’t just sitting in a boardroom – they’re also working the wards on the front-lines of healthcare. 

For Sam, who moved from the ward into digital projects, moving from a clinical setting to a digital one was challenging but ultimately rewarding.  

“I missed my ward team – the banter. When you’re sitting at a desk on your own it’s very much: ‘who should I contact?’ everyone is busy with their own things and this role was a brand new one that people needed time to understand.” 

Now with her own team, Sam is building a culture of digital innovation with boots on the ground at the front-lines of the NHS. 

“I still go on to the wards and I’ll still talk to patients – but I don’t get hands on. Sometimes you miss that. During COVID, we had uniforms on the back of our doors – but we weren’t needed.” 

Instead, Sam and her team provided critical support ensuring that remote working requests were triaged and serviced so critical work could continue from a remote setting. 

I’m Not Afraid to Ask Questions 

Leading technical teams and digital programmes requires a lot from the professional. The ability to listen , understand and translate technical challenges is something you can do regardless of how knowledgeable you are on the ins and outs of a specific technology. 

Questions, regardless of how silly they might seem, are the oil that grease the digital transformation wheels. 

“I can be there to guide them in how it’s going to be used, and the priorities and things like that, but they’re the specialists. Sometimes the tech teams would tell me it’s going to take X amount of time to get something done. I’m not really sure about that. So yeah, I do push back in order to understand why” 

Being able to direct resources in the direction the organisation needs it to go involves being democratic, listening and caring for everyone involved in the programme and process. 

“I’ve done so many leadership courses but it comes down to listening to your staff and caring for your staff a, encouraging them, developing them, but also empowering them to do what they need to do. You can’t do it all yourself.” 

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