In the first of two special interviews focusing on IT in the NHS, we spoke with Sam Hanson, who works as a Project Manager in the Digital Transformation team at the NHS South Central and West Commissioning Support Unit having completed their in-house Graduate Management Scheme.
Tell us about your job, Sam.
My organisation is part of the NHS and we provide IT services and solutions to process needs across the health and social care sector. One area we are helping in is to link up patient information across health and social care. An example of a project I worked on has been with a Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to standardise their approach to clinical correspondence, such as consultation and discharge letters to make sure patients and health care professionals all receive the information they need.
We also look at data management and information sharing, which of course is really important to ensure is shared responsibly and with compliance and confidentiality. We also help organisations within the NHS with their digital strategic planning.
How did you get into it?
I studied Biological Sciences as an undergrad at Leeds University and moved on to do a Masters in International Health. I have been interested in the healthcare sector for a long time and it was an area I felt really passionate about.
I got my foot in the door by applying for the SCW Graduate Management Scheme. The NHS has a wider programme for graduates, but this one really appealed. I went through the application and assessment process and was placed with the Digital Transformation team. Some schemes are designed to allow you to move around teams, spending up to 9 months with each one, but the format of the SCW scheme is to let you spend the full two years with one directorate.
I found this really beneficial because I got the chance to spend time in one specialism and get a really deep understanding of it. After 6 months I applied for a promotion to a Junior Consultant post, which I got. Since then I have also been successful in securing my current position as a Project Manager.
Who do you work with?
There are a range of people in the team – from business analysts to solution system architects. They come from a range of graduate backgrounds whether it’s graduates fresh from university or from existing professional backgrounds – all have brought a wealth of knowledge to the team.
Colleagues who joined with me on the SCW Graduate Management Scheme had degrees from a range of backgrounds including Psychology and English Literature and work in a variety of directorates across the organisation. You don’t necessarily need a healthcare or technical qualification – it’s more about demonstrating you have the skill to learn, prioritise, lead, manage and communicate.
What qualities do you think they were looking for when they recruited you?
I’ve been involved in recruiting graduates for the SCW Graduate Management Scheme since joining so have seen it from both sides. Anyone who joins the organisation needs to have patient care at the centre of everything they do. I think they were keen to see a real passion for patients.
I think they look for people who can think creatively and find new ways to make the patient experience better. They were looking for people with those transferable skills who also had a real interest in the health and social care sector.
Where are you based?
Currently I’m based in Bristol, and as part of my role we cover a lot of the south of England, from Oxford to Devon and Cornwall, right across to Kent. But our geographical base is growing and we are now working with many different organisations. I’ve just been working with Humber Coast and Vale in the north east of England, helping them to create a digital strategy for bringing technology, and digital technology in particular, into their work.
It’s great to get the chance to get out and about, and of course working in digital technology, there are really no geographical boundaries to working with the many different organisations within the NHS. Some of our senior leaders in the organisation work nationally and internationally.
How much can a graduate start on?
The posts that are advertised at the moment for NHS graduate training schemes are salaried at around £24k.
What’s the best thing about your job?
The enthusiasm across the whole team, locally and nationally. The drive to push digital technology across the NHS shows what a crucial element of the social care and healthcare sector it is, and it’s great to have a role which really helps patients. It’s what we all have at the centre of everything we do, and that’s a great motivator.