Policy & Strategy

Second Placement

Posted by Emma Sterling, 20 Jun 2017

I’m already a third of the way through my second placement - I’d swear the days on the scheme are getting shorter! I’ve joined the Planning (soon to be Strategy & Planning) team at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, and it’s fab! My team are welcoming, accommodating and helpful (a theme on this scheme)!  It’s so different to my last placement at NHS England and at times it feels as though I’m starting the scheme from scratch. I like that - in many ways that can make it easier to make mistakes and ask questions.

I always struggle to pack in everything I’ve done in the last 6 weeks or so into 500 words but this time is particularly challenging. Here goes (in an inexact timeline):

Week 1:

  • Got stuck in working in Facilities Management for my own mini-orientation at the Royal Free. Facilities management incudes: domestics (cleaning and patient environment), catering (for staff and patients), post office (aka. The bat cave), portering (moving patients, waste and practically anything else), transport, reception and more! I a got taster of all of these. So. Much. Fun.

  • Highlight of week 1 - the porters let me drive the porter tug at max speed: 12 mph. I also met some great people.

Weeks 2-3:

  • Unfortunately the week in facilities wasn’t just a jolly. I had to do a presentation to my team on what I did, what I learned and in particular what I learned that I’d take forward as a strategy trainee. This was my first solo presentation on the scheme and though informal, was pretty nerve wracking.

  • This week I got further immersed in the Planning Team. The team were working on a ‘10 year visions’ booklet containing a 10 year vision for every service. The idea was to get services to thinks aspirationally, strategically and consider what would need to be true for their service to be delivered according to their vision. The project had been in the works long before my arrival but I was able to review some of these visions and pull out common themes.

Week 4-6 (ish):

  • The Royal Free Group Model is the main focus for the Board of Directors and the Planning team. I was starting to get to grips with rationale and strategy behind the Group Model around this time and starting to understand how The Group fits in with the Sustainable Transformation Plan (STP) for North Central London (NCL). There will be some changes to the organisation’s structure. Difficult decision will need to be made and to make them well, we have to engage both patients and staff effectively.

Weeks 6 +:

  • I dipped my fingers in operational management pie briefly. I spent some time in A & E. I’d highly recommend this! It was a lot less gory than I’d pictured in my naïve mind’s eye, but the pace and energy was intense! I attended and A & E live exercise to test out how smoothly things would run in the new A & E area in the event of a major incident.

Learning so far:

  • The five year forward view is important here, but not nearly as apparent as it was at NHSE
  • Financial pressures are much more visible and real in a Trust
  • The relationship between NHSE, NHSI and Trust Management is not the #relationshipsgoals I thought it was through my NHSE screen - feelings on regulatory bodies/ improvement organisations and commissioning are far more mixed.
  • I still feel ‘new’ and at times wonder (especially when it dawns on me that I’m over 1/3 of the way through the whole scheme) if I am progressing sufficiently and at the right rate. I think that’s normal?...
  • It never ceases to amaze me how willing people are to go out of their way to be kind and to help a trainee fit in. My team and others go out of their way to provide opportunities for me to do new and interesting things (e.g. I was able to attend the NCL STP meeting and I went to a dinner with clinical fellows and our Trust CEO).
  • The NHS is constantly changing, with quality, value and efficiency as the main drivers. Leadership, tactful considerate strategy and robust policy are import, perhaps now more than ever. Therefore, I’m reminded daily how glad I am to have chosen this stream.
Emma Sterling

Emma Sterling

2017 intake

Hi everyone! My name is Emma and I’m part of the NHS GMTS 2016 intake on the new Policy and Strategy stream. I graduated from the University of Leicester with a BSc in Medical Genetics in 2015 and applied for the scheme that same year. The NHS GMTS was the only management graduate scheme I applied for. I knew wanted to make a positive impact on the healthcare system in a world class organisation that shared my core values and utilise some of my biomedical knowledge so the NHS was an obvious first choice. In my ‘year out’ before the scheme I’ve held a temporary post back at my university in pedagogic research and worked with early years children. Outside of work I enjoy an active lifestyle, yoga, art and am a self confessed foodie!

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