My Flexi-Placement at the Department of Health
08 Dec 2017
As part of the scheme, all trainees undergo a flexi-placement (or secondment) where they are able to work for an organisation outside the NHS, if they wish, for several weeks. It’s a short period but valuable in terms of gaining experiences from outside the NHS, and sharing NHS knowledge with other sectors. Trainees go to a variety of different organisations including charities, universities, consultancy firms, private sector or other public bodies.
My flexi-placement was at the Department of Health for 2 months. I was based at Richmond House in Westminster as part of the SCAD directorate – Social Care, Aging and Disabilities. Across the directorate they covered a multitude of policy areas but my focus was on Health and Social Care Integration. The team I was working with covered integration from several sides – some worked on the technicalities behind STPs, ACSs or ACOs (Further Reading: https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/publications/accountable-care-organisations-explained), whilst others looked at the Better Care Fund (BCF) and Health and Wellbeing Boards (Further Reading: https://www.england.nhs.uk/ourwork/part-rel/transformation-fund/bcf-plan/), and finally, some looked at the barriers to integration and how other countries are approaching integrated health care systems.
I was mainly involved in this last area as my project was based around understanding how these large systems (such as ACSs and STPs) were being supported to achieve an integrated health care system. I was also looking at how these organisations are supported to integrate further with social care (such as through the BCF) to create seamless transitions for patients that are within the social care sector and require health care services.
Throughout the placement I spoke with Directors and Project Leads from a variety of organisations such as NHS Improvement, NHS England, Department for Communities and Local Government, the Local Government Association, the Health Foundation, county councils and more. It was important to understand both what support was out there for organisations undergoing this large scale change but also to understand what gaps they might be in that support.
I was also able to further my understanding of how Government works, and how this influences the direction of the NHS. I attended debates on policy issues, health orals and health select committees (how the Health Ministers are held to account) and was able to shadow various parts of the Department of Health.
It was an amazing two months where I was able to see a completely different side of the health sector and complete a project that will hopefully support changes in the future. I was also able to share my experiences of the NHS with the team to help them further their understanding of the wider health sector as well.
Flexi-placements are a great opportunity to experience something completely different – whether that’s inside or outside the health sector. The placement is short so make the most of it by going somewhere that not only helps you develop, but where you can make an impact as well.