Lessons in leadership, engagement and digital transformation

17th December 2020

As part of the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme, trainees have the opportunity to spend eight weeks with an organisation to gain experience of leadership outside of the NHS. The AHSN NENC welcomed Shauna Roberts on a placement just two months ago, during which time she’s benefited from exposure to innovation and project management on a regional scale and has widened her understanding of the healthcare landscape outside of the NHS.

As Shauna’s placement comes to an end, she has written a blog about her time with us.

Placement focus

Throughout my placement, I have been able to understand the innovation landscape and how the AHSN NENC operates to support this by delivering projects at scale and pace. The main part of my placement has been gaining first-hand experience of the development and delivery of the NHSX Cardiology Virtual Wards and Digital Care Homes projects on remote monitoring. This has provided me with valuable skills and knowledge on stakeholder engagement, budget management and benefits realisation.

In addition, I have been able to observe a variety of meetings, such as the Patient Safety Collaborative where Pulse Oximetry @ Home was discussed, and attended a series of webinars, including one on Intellectual Property. I have also met a wide variety of people from different organisations and have been able to develop my network which will be invaluable for the future.

Lessons learned

Prior to this placement, I knew digital technology was the way forward for the NHS but I did not feel personally invested or interested in it. However, after being involved in the NHSX remote monitoring projects and working alongside the digital transformation leads, I now appreciate its importance and the potential beneficial impact on patient care and NHS staff. The benefits range from improving patient experience by saving unnecessary healthcare visits, to saving clinical time. As well seeing its potential, I have also come to appreciate the challenges associated with deploying digital transformation across the NHS, i.e. logistics, and the importance of digital inclusion.

I have also learned that innovations stem from frontline staff who have contact with patients every day. I have been able to observe meetings with clinicians who have identified a challenge within their service and have thought innovatively to come up with solutions to improve the quality of patient care. This has provided valuable learning for me going forward as I will actively look to engage clinicians when facing any challenges to service delivery or when looking to carry out transformation projects.

Another key learning point has been the importance of early stakeholder engagement for project success, especially clinicians. Engaging stakeholders ensures that the appropriate expertise is provided, and any risks or issues are identified at the earliest opportunity. Also, it allows you to understand the needs and perspectives of different stakeholders which can help tailor your project so that its outcomes are beneficial to everyone. Finally, it allows for the development of trusting relationships and increases the organisation’s credibility. I have also come to appreciate the challenges associated with stakeholder engagement when working regionally across a complex healthcare environment.

Taking my learning forward

I have had the pleasure of having conversations with some great leaders within the organisation about their career journeys, their leadership challenges and how they have overcome them. Through this I have been able to gain some great tips and advice which I will take forward in my next placement.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported me during my placement.

I have really enjoyed and learnt a lot from my eight weeks at the AHSN NENC and have met some amazing people who I hope to keep in contact with.

Anyone interested in placement opportunities with the AHSN NENC can contact HR Manager Joanne Famelton at [email protected]