Weeknote: 30 April to 4 May 2018

I started writing weeknotes soon after I joined NHS Digital as head of design in June 2017. I find it a good discipline for me to reflect on my week, and to make sure I’m making progress against my own and my team’s objectives. Because groups of colleagues congregate in different virtual places, I settled on posting them simultaneously to our #design channel on Slack and an internal “blog” on Sharepoint. As an experiment, I’m posting a lightly redacted version here too. Views: my own. Publication status: experimental.


Started the week with the regular programme directors’ call for the Empower the Person portfolio.

After that, I went over to NHS Digital HQ at Trevelyan Square for advice from an HR manager about my own professional development. I believe the NHS needs people-centred design leadership at director, executive board, and CEO levels, and I need to develop my own senior leadership skills if I am to be one of those future leaders. This might involve applying for one of the leadership development programmes that run across the NHS. I might also benefit from executive coaching and more senior mentorship.

1:30pm on Monday is the regular design profession office hours on Slack. I shared a draft agenda for our forthcoming design team event and encouraged people to sign up for show and tell slots.

In between time, sorting out tickets for Leeds GovJam (6-7 June). NHS Digital will be taking a block of 10 places which we plan to allocate to colleagues who would benefit from this awesome service design and design thinking experience.


I played a small part in helping the Widening Digital Participation Programme prepare for the launch of their Digital Inclusion Guide for Health and Social Care. It’s a great piece of work, full of useful advice and links, now published on our corporate website: https://digital.nhs.uk/about-nhs-digital/our-work/digital-inclusion

Another meeting with an HR manager – this time to get feedback on the new job descriptions we’re creating for designers. The goal is to have a complete set of job descriptions at a range of seniority levels. They’ll all be consistently graded using the same Agenda for Change bands as nurses, doctors, NHS managers and other professionals.

In the afternoon, it was the fortnightly design leadership meeting. We talked about the cross-government service design event that Tero is helping to organise. Also recruitment, on-boarding, accessibility, and design governance. Finally we discussed the growing number of requests for designers to help with small, short notice artwork or production jobs. Everyone wants to be helpful, but we need to make sure we have visibility of these, and be sure that they’re the best use of our designers’ much-in-demand skills.

After that, Dean, the lead designer on the NHS website, and I dialled into a briefing on the NHS.UK programme for our colleagues at the Department of Health and Social Care and the Government Digital Service (GDS).


I spent the morning and early afternoon at a network event for Health Education England’s technology enhanced learning programme, where I presented our user-centred design approach. I enjoyed hearing from online learning start-up founder, speaker, and general provocateur Donald Clark, and learning about some of HEE’s work improving the quality and consistency of online learning across health and social care.

Back at Bridgewater Place, I got a sneak preview of a new mobile-first header design before pop-up user testing later in the week.

At the end of the day, I went for a coffee with Paul from ODI Leeds, the brilliant Open Data Institute node of which NHS Digital is now a sponsor. I can’t wait to see what our teams can do together.


I deputised for Amanda, our head of profession, at the monthly NHS Digital Heads of Profession Forum. At a time when our organisation’s operating model is changing, this group has an important role to play in maintaining professional standards and realising our goal of being a learning organisation.

A shorter than usual NHS.UK senior leadership team meeting, followed by the weekly Leeds designers’ huddle, a chance for any designer to show work in progress and get feedback from their peers. Then a catch up with Pete, the designer on e-Referrals.


Catching up with people and emails. I try to keep Fridays free to reflect and plan for the following week, but sometimes important things crop up that make me break that rule.

In the afternoon, a call with colleagues to discuss our organisation’s potential response to the GDS consultation on accessibility of public sector websites and apps. Teams here already take their accessibility obligations seriously, and the new EU directive will help to further sharpen the focus.


Took my 12-year-old son to see the start of the Tour de Yorkshire stage at Richmond.

When we got home, this book was waiting for me: https://public.digital/book/ Highly recommended!

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