Alex Hendrie

Contracts Manager, Sheffield

General Management Scheme

Seeing patients’ lives transformed after having the surgery they needed - in the operating theatre I’d designed. This is no ordinary general management scheme.

I was only a year into the scheme when I worked with clinical colleagues to design and develop a minor operating theatre, and was able to see it both being built and utilised. It became very real when I saw the old walls come down and the workmen were building the theatre. It was incredibly inspiring.

I wanted to wake up every morning and know the work I do helps the public.

Healthcare is a service sector that will always be needed – people will always get sick and I wanted to be able to lead and define healthcare innovation. Everyone works towards the same goal – providing cost effective and exceptional care, and I get so much satisfaction from doing the right thing for patients and staff.

Everyone here wants to do the best they can to benefit patients in their own way.

Before I joined the scheme, my view of the NHS was informed by the press. I perceived it to be run by an abundance of poorly trained managers. Now my view is entirely different; there is not an abundance of management and I have had the pleasure of working with some of the brightest and most passionate people I have ever met.

I’m being mentored by executive and director level colleagues.

There’s a fantastic support network here. I’m getting exposure to colleagues at the top level of the NHS – people with over 20 years’ experience are sharing their knowledge with me. My fellow trainees are a great network too, as we’re all on the same journey and learn with and from each other. I’ve made some lifelong friends on the scheme, and it’s exciting to know that we’ll be working together for the NHS in the future.

Across all my placements I feel I’ve been able to leave a lasting and positive impact on the wider health economy.

I was given so much responsibility from day one of the scheme. On my first placement as service manager for a plastic surgery service, my work helped patients receive a high level of care. As well as supporting the service and clinical colleagues, I worked on developing a new minor operating theatre. It was an incredibly satisfying job, knowing that without my direct involvement patients might have had operations cancelled and treatment delayed.

Later on in the scheme I helped to produce two workstreams that saved a total of £3.3 million for the NHS, and also supported a wider team that delivered a projected £25 million saving.

I’ve gone from being able to manage myself, to leading teams with over 50 people.

I’ve learnt so much about myself on this scheme. My confidence has increased, and I’ve seen how my people and communication skills are an asset and really important to my role. I’ve gained invaluable knowledge of the NHS and how to run services, and the leadership training is exceptional. Not only that, but I’ve grown my resilience, and my determination to do right by patients.

This is not just a job. It’s a way of life.

Everything you do impacts on patients and people, so you have to be ready to give it your all. It is a challenging job, which at times can be highly stressful and emotional due to the nature of the work – we are dealing with people’s lives. But the NHS will support you and give so much satisfaction, and there are so many different roles which keeps it interesting. I know that this is my vocation in life, and I will never look for another career.