What did I experiment with?
This week felt a bit like emerging from winter. It’s now light enough that on two mornings I got out for a short bike ride before starting work for the day. On Wednesday, I had an old laptop to return to Quarry House, the office base I’ve barely visited since joining NHSX during a lockdown. I booked a desk and worked there all day, which I plan to do a day or so a week now. Trust me, it’s quite nice on the inside. The hardest part is finding the way in through the surrounding construction works.
What was hard?
Not so much. After the rollercoaster of last week’s reorganisation and rebranding news, this week felt a lot more balanced.
What did I enjoy?
Some good team catch-ups this week. Lovely to see everyone engaging with the stand-ups and retrospective, and supporting each other to cover their work. The recent starters to our team are really coming into their own, and I encouraged one of them to make the most of his newness – if something about the way we work seems confusing, you’re almost certainly not the only one who’s confused. Speak up, and tell us what would make more sense to you.
A constructive session with senior leaders from across the newly-created NHS Transformation Directorate, to discuss early thinking on the directorate’s operating model. As part of the preparation for the session, we were asked what we were most proud of from our careers so far. I said mine was the growth of the digital professions in NHS Digital, including growing our own graduate talent. I’m looking forward to joining forces with some people I know already from my NHS Digital days and some new faces from other parts of NHS England and NHS Improvement. We all have a shared commitment to making things better for patients and frontline staff, and to creating a productive working environment for our teams.
What did I learn?
I observed a user research interview with a nurse looking at the NHS Service Finder, which is part of our digital urgent and emergency care product portfolio. Our participant was in a specialist role where she often had to signpost patients to other services. We learned how she had to put a lot of effort into creating and maintaining lists of local services on her trust’s intranet. When she needed to find equivalent services for patients visiting from other parts of the country, she could lose an hour to Googling and reading public websites to understand if a service would be appropriate for her patient.
What do I need to take care of?
Quite a few colleagues have annual leave to take before the end of March. My deputy, Jacqui, and I have encouraged them not to carry over too much leave, because it’s important that everyone takes the time off they’re entitled to (including me – I’ve booked a few days off in March). It’s also the time of year when budgeting or prioritsation tasks will inevitably need a quick turnaround, so the person best placed to handle them might be on leave. I’m trusting that the work the team have done to share their work and empower each other will mean we don’t miss anything.
My new “dotted line” reporting arrangements mean I have to link my directorate into two teams, with two lots of senior leadership team meetings, two lots of all staff events, two lots of reporting, and so on. Interpreting the complexity is part of my job as a director, but I need to be mindful that we mustn’t double up the burdens of these things for everyone else in the directorate too. That would only squeeze the time they have to do their work. So far everyone has been very understanding about it, and I’m confident we will make it work.