Weeknote: 13 to 17 June 2022

Back to weeknotes after a short gap to write my reflections on 5 years in the NHS.

Looking through an arts and crafts movement stained glass window with gardens and landscape in background. A white rendered wall with stone mullioned windows is visible through the window on the left-hand side
Saturday trip to Blackwell, a stunning arts and crafts movement house near the banks of Windermere

What did you enjoy?

Spending time with digital leaders from the ambulance sector. On Tuesday afternoon, a few colleagues and I had a Teams call with Abigail from North West Ambulance. The next morning I joined the monthly National Ambulance Digital Leaders Group. We don’t always make it easy for people leading services to understand what’s going on in the national NHS organisations, so I’ve tried bring together the different digital teams that interact with the sector, and make sure we’re talking to each other.

A catch-up with Rachel, who is one month into a digital leadership role in the vaccinations service. I was always impressed by the work Rachel did at the Department for Education, and hope she’ll be able to bring the same ways of working across policy, digital, and operations to her corner of the NHS.

What did you learn?

I liked being back in the office! On Monday, I met Digital Urgent and Emergency Care (UEC) colleagues Marie and Natalie in person at Quarry House, spending the day working just a few metres apart from each other. Of course we can be in constant touch through messages and Teams calls, but it’s nice to be able to just walk round to the other side a desk for a chat. On Wednesday, during the Ambulance Digital Leaders Group, another programme in the NHS Digital Transformation Portfolio was mentioned. The lead for that programme was working on the same floor as me, so in the break I went round and asked him about it. Everyone’s different, and many colleagues work very effectively from home, but personally I’m really looking forward to being able to spend the majority of my working hours back in an office.

What was hard?

Having led teams through re-organisations in the public and private sectors, I sense we’re now at the phase in the re-org that I find most frustrating –  when the old structures of accountability have been weakened, but new ones have not yet been clearly established. That’s disempowering as a manager, because it means your mandate and decisions are constantly at risk of being undermined. I’m looking forward to the next phase, where more of the new operating model is shared openly, and we can all start to make sense of what it means for our teams and our profession.

What do you need to take care of?

I’m trying to keep the development of my directorate moving forward, and I’m grateful for the support of more senior leaders in this. I’m also mindful that the change process adds complication and delay to things that would otherwise be more simple.

I’m looking forward to strategy work getting underway on digital enablers in UEC. I want to prioritise setting off the strategy-making process in a good direction, and ensure that diverse groups of people, including patients and frontline staff, have a say as the strategy develops.

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