An organisation is only ever as good as its staff and at the Care Group, we fully recognise the contribution of every colleague in our organisation. Our rapid growth, from just 10 employees four years ago, to nearly 500 today is pretty remarkable and our core objectives of supporting and developing local primary care and providing exemplary community services to local residents continues to govern our work.
This new blog series aims to shed light on the range of work and diverse job roles within the Care Group, but also to show the personalities behind the roles. Every month, we will showcase a new day in the life of a Care Group colleague so visit often to learn more about the employees behind the teams and services.
Who is Michael Glover?
Give a brief overview of your background.
I was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland; one of seven siblings. Growing up I was very much involved in sports, running, football, gaelic football and hurling. I was successful enough to become the All-Ireland Cross-Country Champion in 1991 and represent the North and South of Ireland in international athletics on the track and x-country. I also have a sub 2hr 53 marathon time.
I’d say that sports has continued to live on as a passion in my life, which is why after passing my GCSEs and A-Levels, I moved to London to pursue a career as a Physiotherapist. My two super children: Kieran 15yrs and Erika 12yrs both have got the sporting gene, because they are both excelling in their respective sports of Rugby and Gymnastics, as-well as their academic studies.
I have lived in Tower Hamlets since my arrival from Belfast in 1994 and qualified with a BSc Hons degree from the University of East London in 1997. My career journey has taken me in a full 360 degrees, as I started in Tower Hamlets as part of Tower Hamlets NHS Trust at the London Chest Hospital, moving to the Royal London Hospital and then Mile End Hospital.
I moved to the Homerton Hospital in Hackney in 2001 to manage the Outpatient service, before returning to manage the Sports Gym at Mile End Hospital. This role was a rewarding time as I was Co-Lead in a team that achieved runners-up in the Health Service Journal awards for a Service redesign initiative to reduce waiting times for patients. We reduced waiting times from six months to one to two weeks. Later on, I transitioned to a new role to become Principal Lead Physiotherapist for Barking, Havering, and Redbridge NHS Trust in 2010. Then in 2012, I became Deputy Clinical Lead at Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS Trust, where I managed St. Thomas’s Musculoskeletal Service.
The opportunity to return and serve the Tower Hamlets population again where it all began was a no-brainer. I was successful in being offered the post of First Contact Physiotherapy Practitioner in September 2020.
My role at the Care Group …
What are the key aspects of your First Contact Physiotherapy Practitioner role?
The key aspect, of my role, is to provide patients with the following:
What team/service does your role sit within?
I operate in Network 8 and operate from two GP Practices, which are Barkantine on Monday Wednesdays, and Thursdays, and Island Health on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Name two other teams/services that you work closely with, and how?
I work closely with our GPs across the GP Care Group’s Network 8. The two other services I work with are the Social Prescribing team, which I provide non-medical support that can impact patient's approach to recovery and I support Health Coaches. I also work with Barts Health Secondary Care Services supporting patients with physiotherapy, occupational therapy, hand therapy, orthopaedic services, and imaging.
Describe a typical day in your role?
My day starts at 8am and I am thankful to my line management for offering flexibility in my hours. I do two long days on a Monday and Tuesday and there shorter days on Wednesday through to Friday. My capacity over the week is approximately 100 patients.
Once the day starts it is a wave of back-to-back 20minute appointments. This involves greeting the patient, hearing their history, asking probing questions to formulate a diagnosis, clinical examination to test the diagnosis, discussing with patients on my findings, and provide an early treatment and management plan. This responsibility, like the above, may require onward referral. The majority of patients I see are face to face, but I also offer telephone consultations and video consultations depending on the patient preference due to the pandemic impact.
The impact of the pandemic has challenged many Physiotherapists and the model of Physiotherapy may never be the same again, but we have rallied and successfully adapted to ensure patients get the assessment, treatment, and management they deserve.
What would you say are the most challenging aspects of your role?
The most challenging aspect of my role is identifying the non-musculoskeletal masque radars in which patients may be present within the clinic. With more exposure, this will become less of a challenge. Other challenges are breaking bad news and pandemic induced waiting times for other services
What do you enjoy most, or what are you most proud of in your job?
As a front-line First Contact Physiotherapy Practitioner, I enjoy the interaction you get with patients. It can be refreshing meeting patients as you never know what character will come next. I also take joy in the challenge of managing the simple to the complex presentation arriving in the clinic and the diversity of our patients within Tower Hamlets.
I am proud that I am able to engage an individual to actively take control of their circumstances, their rehabilitation and successfully implement strategies to lead a healthy and more active lifestyle, meaning they are less or no longer reliant on services. It is also rewarding when a patient attends their consultation and states “you come highly recommended” …no pressure 😊
Share one thing that your colleagues don’t know about you?
I suffer from claustrophobia, and I am not too fond of our arachnoid friends either!
Who is Phoebe Kalungi?
I am one of those people who has always known what they wanted to do from a young age. At 12 years old, for reasons I cannot remember, I decided that I was going to study nutrition and grow up to work for the World Health Organisation.
At around that age my family relocated from a small town with a lot of green spaces, active lifestyles, and strong food culture, to an inner London Borough in the early 2000’s. To say it was a culture shock would be an understatement. This drastic change in environment and lifestyle habits resulted in me having some weight gain in my teen years. This was in the days before Jamie Oliver’s campaign on healthy eating and stronger government action on child healthy weight.
After leaving school, with an interest in nutrition I went on to study for my first degree in Food and Nutrition and quickly followed with a Master's degree in Public Health Nutrition a year after completing my first degree.
My first job after graduating was with Hastings and Rother NHS Trust as a Healthy Weight Project Worker in school. I worked with primary schools across Hastings, Eastbourne, and Brighton as part of the Healthy Schools Programme to make improvements in healthy eating, school meals, and packed lunches. After this role, I spent the next few years in the NHS working for a Nutrition and Dietetics community service in London as a Public Health Nutritionist. The brief for this role included work on food poverty, infant feeding, school food and child weight management, and malnutrition in older adults.
I left the NHS in 2014 to work in the Local Government. During this time, I worked for various Public Health departments across London and the South West, leading work on obesity and child mental health.
I re-joined the NHS again in October 2020 and I am very excited to be back to embark on this new role with Tower Hamlets GP Care Group. I have enjoyed getting to know colleagues internally and externally to the organisation and I hope to meet them all in person one day.
What are the key aspects of your Community Child Healthy Weight Lead role?
The key aspect of my role is to lead a whole-systems approach to help tackle childhood obesity across Tower Hamlets. I lead a small three-person Community Child Healthy Weight team, that includes a Child Healthy Weight Advisor (dietician) and an Infant Feeding Lead (Health Visitor). Our team works in an integrated way with partners across the GP Care Group, Local Authority, and voluntary/community sector organisations, to deliver key actions set out in the Tower Hamlets child healthy weight strategy and action plan, for the achievement of positive child weight outcomes.
My role sits within 0-19 Integrated Services.
Internally my team works closely with the Care Group’s 0-19 integrated services (Health Visiting, School Health and Family Nurse Partnership). However, our team works across the borough with external teams to take a whole-system approach to child healthy weight.
For example, our Infant Feeding Lead works closely with the Health Visiting team and external partners in the early years to co-ordinate the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative. An aspect of my role also involves working with local GP’s, local authority teams such as public health, children services, and food poverty teams to make improvements and to reduce health inequalities for families.
I started working for the GP Care Group during the lockdown in October, so I have only ever worked remotely in this role. Even so, no two days are the same.
To separate work and home life, I usually begin my working day by mimicking a commute. This is where I walk the duration in time of what would be my commute from home to my base at Beaumont House. I find this helps me to focus for the day and helps me get in those vital steps on the Fitbit.
I am extremely fortunate to work in a strategic role, that provides great diversity on a day-to-day basis. I spend a great deal of my time collaborating with internal and external colleagues to move strategic programmes and projects forward. For example, this could involve working with GPs to find solutions for adolescents' healthy weight in the morning. I will have prepped for the meeting a few days earlier to ensure that I bring up-to-date evidence-based solutions.
I’m a firm believer in team collaboration and so each day I will catch up with my team, checking in on their wellbeing and progress on individual projects. I then work to resolve any areas of concerns or blockages that are raised. I will also pick up any project management, planning as well as admin tasks to ensure that all work streams remain on track.
In the afternoon I could be working with my team to develop workforce training for 0-19 health practitioners, assisting local authority commissioners to moderate weight management funding applications, or conducting service improvement activities on our child weight pathways. Late afternoons are usually quieter, and I try to get in a few solid hours where I can catch up on any report writing, research new approaches and respond to emails that have come in throughout the day.
I am currently providing mentoring support to an undergraduate student training in Public Health, so I will meet with them on a regular basis to review their progress. It is an enormous privilege to be able to support the next generation of practitioners.
The most challenging aspect of my role is ensuring that the partnership work and commitments to improve child healthy weight remain at the top of everyone’s agenda. With the impact of the COVID pandemic and lockdowns on our local services, there are now more competing priorities than ever. There is a danger that infant feeding and child healthy weight can be pushed off the priority list when 22.4 % of our 4–5 year-olds and 41.8% of 10-11 year-olds in Tower Hamlets were an unhealthy weight going into the pandemic in 2019/2020.
What are you most proud of in your job?
I am most proud knowing that the work I do makes a real difference in the lives of children and families. It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that I don’t work in vain. I am also fortunate to work with such dedicated and helpful colleagues in the Care Group and externally across the borough. There is a real ‘can-do’ and collaborative attitude in Tower Hamlets that is very refreshing.
I have performed in two theatre productions and had a speaking part in a short film.
Who is Selina Parris?
I was what some may consider a “late bloomer”. I had no idea what to do in life and spent most of my younger years going out and travelling. It wasn’t until after I received amazing care as a patient, following an operation, that I became inspired to train to become a nurse. To make this a reality I made the decision to apply for university to obtain a nursing qualification. I qualified as an Adult Nurse, from City University London in October 2014, shortly after having my first child.
I was then fortunate enough to be part of a pilot to train newly qualified nurses in A&E as part of a new preceptorship programme with King’s College Hospital – Orpington Site. I learned and developed a lot of skills in a fast-paced environment, where no day was the same. One of the key things I took away from my first role, was the importance of teamwork and communication in delivering patient care. I loved working in A&E, however, I had to make a tough decision to leave the unpredictability of shift-work and look for something more stable to raise my son.
After a brief role working part-time with Tower Hamlets District Nursing Team, I decided to go back to university to train as a School Nurse. Returning to education was important for me to continue my professional development and equip me with the knowledge and skills required to carry out my role effectively. My SCPHN training took place in the London Borough of Wandsworth, where I developed my experience with a wide range of training and exposure to different scenarios. After 4 years working in Wandsworth, I decided it was time for a change and made the transition, during the pandemic and joined the GP Care Group in April 2020.
I have now been a School Nurse with GP Care Group for just over a year and I’m excited about the thought of what comes next.
What are the key aspects of your School Nurse role?
The list of responsibilities as a School Nurse is rewarding and endless. A key aspect of my role is providing health advice and support to school-aged children and their families. As a School Nurse, I target public health support to identify vulnerable children in Tower Hamlets while working with other agencies in Child Protection and Safeguarding.
I have the responsibility of managing a caseload of children known to our School Health and Wellbeing Service and advocate to ensure their health needs are met. In addition, I support, mentor and educate pre-and post-registration nursing students in the School Health Service.
Another important aspect of my role involves health promotion in the borough. This includes delivering training to children, families, and schools to support a healthy lifestyle to reduce health inequalities.
I work with the GP Care Group’s Network 5 and 6 School Nursing Team.
I work mostly with Schools within the borough, but my position enables me to work closely with Social Services and often liaise with Health Visitors.
I will start off by saying that no day is the same. All staff check-in via Microsoft Teams in the morning and advise where they will be for the day. Due to the pandemic, I am currently working from home, which is very different to what a School Nurse’s day would normally look like.
Typically, I would normally arrange to go to one of my schools on my caseload and liaise with key staff to support children/young people with their health needs in school. This could be via a health needs assessment or through support and advice. However, as I am working remotely, the next thing I will do after checking in is looking at my diary, ChatHealth rota, and emails. ChatHealth is our free text messaging services that allow young people in the borough to reach us and talk about their health concerns confidentially.
I often respond to straightforward inquiries and then I will prioritise urgent emails and log into our EMIS system and work my way through each task, with the aim to complete any outstanding query. A lot of our work at the moment consists of working with spreadsheets and data as there are a lot of children and young people in Tower Hamlets.
I would then read over the A&E attendances and Safeguarding notifications which are updated daily by our supportive admin team and allocated according to the School and School Nurse.
If there are any upcoming safeguarding meetings, I will attempt to contact the family concerned to discuss any health concerns relating to their child with the intention to complete a report to be shared with the network. All tasks must be documented on each child’s record and a follow-up arranged.
Since COVID-19, our roles have morphed into a lot of administrative tasks and virtual meetings. We have had to adapt to a lot of change within the last year, which comes with its challenges, but there are some positives as well. As a service, we have looked at how we can improve ways of working to improve outcomes and service delivery. Safeguarding has increased exponentially due to the pandemic, which has had an impact on the number of meetings we attend and families we support, and now we need more School Nurses to meet the demand.
Some days, unexpected tasks can come up with short deadlines, and this means having to stop the current task and postpone it until it can be completed at a later date. This is a struggle for me as I do not like to have incomplete tasks, I prefer to complete a task and move on to the next task.
I gain satisfaction knowing that I have contributed to a positive outcome in a child/family’s life. I also often try to support staff and team members, if I can and I find this quite rewarding as well. These are difficult times we are living in and we can all benefit from being empathetic towards others.
I have a birthmark on my right eye. Random, I know.
Who is Dee Ridsdale?
I was born in London and lived in Essex for a few years when I was 5years old. Although I have lived in London most of my life, which is where I raised my daughter. I was a stay-at-home Mum as my daughter has had Rheumatoid Arthritis since the age of 3 years old.
I attended school but left with no qualifications. This encouraged me to look for volunteer opportunities in my local community. In 2005 I joined Poplar Harca as a volunteer which built my confidence and motivated me to do a BME health guide course that was available as part of my volunteer role. I was nervous about doing the course but gave it a go and I enjoyed helping people in the community.
In 2006, I applied for a position as a Tower Hamlets Health Trainer and was very surprised that I got the role. The position was part of Tower Hamlets’ Network 7 and 8 and enabled me to empower local people to improve their health and wellbeing through running exercise classes, cooking, and healthy eating sessions. I was part of this programme until 2017 until it was decommissioned in 2017.
Thereafter I applied for a Social Prescriber role in 2016, which is my current position.
What are the key aspects of your Practice Pharmacist role?
My role as a Social Prescriber is to help patients that are referred from GP practices and other primary care services. My team also receives referrals from outside of primary care. A key aspect of my role is referring patients to the right services that can help them improve their health and wellbeing, such as weight management, housing, debt, benefits, and low mood and anxiety.
My role sits within the GP Care Group’s Network 7 (Newby Health Centre)
I work closely with Neighbours in Poplar who are a community-based organisation that helps people over 50 stay motivated and have a good sense of their community by getting involved in running classes, cooked meals, and a befriending service for those who alone and vulnerable. I refer patients to this service to support the older generation improve their quality of life. I have a good relationship with Sister Christine who is the founder of Neighbours in Poplar.
As a Health Trainer, I attend low-impact classes and cooking classes with patient groups pre-pandemic to support and build a relationship with patients.
I also work with First Love Foundation, which is a Food Bank that my team refers patients who struggle with low income and not being able to meet ends meet or those who worry about feeding their children. I refer patients who I feel are desperate. This referral process is very easy and relieves some pressure that those in need are facing.
This organisation also provides food deliveries and a Benefit Advisor at hand to help those who are struggling with their benefits. Pre-Pandemic the Foundation would hold a Christmas party with a three-course meal, entertainment and a take-home food basket for isolated individuals or single parents.
My day starts with me reviewing my referrals and my clinics so that I can look at which patients need to be prioritised. Four days a week I work in our Practices to see patients who all have specific needs. Some days I attend to patients who need weight management support, and we discuss the best way forward, which usually entails patients joining an exercise class. Sometimes the best option for patients is who is overweight is to go through a weight management programme to support them in making healthier choices long-term. If a patient has complex needs, such as low mood, no money or in debt, then my team will look for a service from which they can get advice from.
When a patient comes to see me or we have a phone consultation, there may be more support that they require which wasn’t listed on their referral form. For example, they may need weight management support, but when they meet you other problems come up which means a referral to one or more services is necessary.
During the pandemic, my team worked remotely, which made us adapt quite quickly. It was all about having a good workspace environment, and the right equipment to achieve my role as a Social Prescriber.
The most challenging role as a Social Prescriber is not having the right services available that the patient needs. Also, when a patient is presented to you with a low mood and tells you that they don’t want to be alive anymore, this can be a challenging situation. Patients confide in us about their thoughts of committing suicide, and we work closely with GPs and the Community Mental Health team to ensure that they will help with the situation. Having a good relationship with GP practices and community services is vital to my role.
During the Pandemic my role became more challenging because where patients needed support, the services at full to their capacity. These services include delivery of meals and food, but the volunteers in each Network were amazing in assisting with deliveries.
I enjoy seeing patients improve their health and wellbeing and empowering them to face and overcome their challenges.
I feel proud when I see patients make a noticeable change a few months or even a year later. I like to think that I played a part in that patient becoming that bit better. In the past, I had a patient who had a severe speech impediment who was very low and reluctant to go to any groups. Eventually he built his confidence and believed I could support him. This led to us attending group sessions together. This happened about three years ago, and the patient still attends our gardening group, has improved his mental health plus made friends which he never had the confidence to do before.
Fortunately, I have worked with my colleagues for a long time, so they know most things about me as we are like family to me. Although, one thing some don’t know about me is that I enjoy reading.
Who is Simon Phillips?
I come from a long line of Pharmacists and there is even a family legend that my Grandpa helped invent loperamide. My first foray into pharmacy was working in my Dad’s Chemist as a specky 16-year-old. I think I would have won a national competition for ‘best 16yr old tena pad knowledge’ but then again, I probably would have been the only entrant. The pharmacy I was based in was very near to where I lived, and I’ve always loved being part of a local community and knowing all the nearby shop owners.
I eventually studied Pharmacy in Liverpool, and completely fell in love with the city. There is a real sense of civic pride and local culture that I haven’t really experienced anywhere else.
My first steps into Tower Hamlets were my Pre-registration year which I completed at Green Light Pharmacy in St Andrews Health Centre. I had lots of formative experiences. One of the most memorable was when a patient brought in a jar with a large tapeworm she had extracted and wanting to know if there was anything over the counter which could treat this. I spent some years in the wilderness of Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, but eventually decided for a career change, and completed a prescribing qualification and gave up the community pharmacy role for primary care.
I currently work in Wapping and Hoxton as part of the Green Light @GP team. I am really glad to be part of the team, aside from running community pharmacies, Green Light also recruits, employs and trains Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians to work in General Practice. My role allows me to work closely with a group of Pharmacists and means I get to be a part of a great and supportive team that can always provide support if needed. I have found NHS teams across Tower Hamlets to be incredibly warm and nurturing. I have had a lot of support to develop professionally, and I’m currently working on an advanced Clinical Practitioner role.
I say that my role can be divided into the following several areas:
1) Long term condition management – which is about reviewing any conditions you can think of and making sure that patients are happy with their medications, and that their treatment is optimised. I am particularly interested in picking apart patients on ‘polypharmacy’ – where they are on loads of medications that have high risk of side effects.
2) Triage – I answer general calls for undifferentiated illnesses within my scope of practice
3) Clinical Admin – I manage and action clinical documents and discharge summaries as well as processing repeat prescription requests.
4) QI work – I really enjoy getting involved with process management at the surgery and have helped re-develop our process for document management, as well as a new COVID protocol which feels like it is now on version three million and sixty.
My role sits within Wapping Group Practice and Strouts Place Medical Centre.
I feel lucky to work with a great Community Mental Health service in the Care Group’s Network 4. The team are very accessible by email, providing advice and support to allow a great multidisciplinary team approach to patient care. This allows for better and speedier management of patients in primary care.
I also work closely with the Social Prescribing service and feel my job would be much harder without their input. Being able to provide a high-quality holistic primary care service for our patients is fantastic. The teams I work with are able to connect with patients in a unique way and often patients feel more comfortable and can be more honest with the services.
Every day is quite different, but an absolute priority for the morning is ensuring that I’ve drank at least two cups of coffee by 9:30am. Nearby the surgery in Hoxton there is a great café that I think does the best espresso in East London.
Once caffeine kicks in I spend the first couple of hours answering general triage calls which are mostly regarding medicine queries, but also help with the workload of undifferentiated ailments that come in the door. Later in the day I have a few hours dedicated to long term condition management, so the big four - Asthma, COPD, Diabetes, Hypertension. I review patients’ medications and ensure they understand what they are for and aren’t getting any side effects. As I have a prescribing qualification, I can also make adjustments to medications if necessary.
Normally around lunchtime there are different meetings to attend, such as practice clinical huddles where we come together as a clinical team to discuss any problems or concerns from the day. This typically includes doctors, pharmacists, and nurses.
The afternoon involves more calls and admin time to clear any medical documents and issue repeat prescriptions. Another part of my role includes facilitating training. I enjoy training and I am currently supporting a Foundation Practice Pharmacist and a Pre-registration Pharmacist, running tutorials sessions at least once a week with both individuals.
Currently the most challenging aspect is the mental burden that COVID is placing on our patient cohort. Lots of people are isolated and their normal coping systems are gone. I particularly worry about the effect unemployment will have once the government furlough scheme ends.
There are two things I love about working in primary care. The first is that in one consultation you can be dealing with multiple different systems and problems and there is huge variation in each consultation. On top of that often, non-medical issues are raised such as housing problems or social care.
I get to work with a great and varied team of clinicians, and really value being part of a multidisciplinary team which is expanding all the time. In Wapping we now have a Physiotherapist who is hugely valuable for patients and I’m sure will help reduce the need for pain relief medications.
I am most proud of the long-term relationships I have developed with my patients and multi-disciplinary teams.
When I was 14 years old, I had a podcast, which I have carefully removed all traces of from the internet. I think probably the only person listening was my Mum.
Who is Shona Davies?
Give a brief overview of your background
I have lived in Hackney since 1979 and have worked in Tower Hamlets since 1988.
I studied my bachelor’s degree in Sociology at the North London Polytechnic, which is known as London Metropolitan University, and specialised in Social Research and Planning.
My first job after graduating was with Hackney Council as a Home Help, and thereafter I became a carer for my mother until she died. This experience led to me working for Age Concern in Tower Hamlets and setting up a range of support services for informal carers between 1988 and 2001. After leaving Age UK I joined Tower Hamlets PCT as a Service Improvement Facilitator, working primarily with Community Services.
After a year in a full-time position, I began studying my second bachelor’s degree in Fine Art part-time, so I decided to reduce my working hours. For this degree I gained a 1st Class Honours from Sir John Cass College of Art and Design in Whitechapel (now part of London Metropolitan University) and have continued to make films and installations as part of a collaborative. After a change in employer, I spent 10 years with Barts Health as Patient Experience Lead and joined the Care Group in 2017 after the team was TUPE’d over as part of the Community Contract.
What are the key aspects of your Patient Experience Manager role?
My role as Patient Experience Manager is to work with and support our small Patient Experience Team and Discovery Interview Volunteers to undertake whole systems reviews by pathway. Guided by Tower Hamlets Together Board, our team talk to patients, carers, and citizens, front line staff, service managers, and commissioners across Tower Hamlets to help us understand strengths and challenges, and make recommendations based on what people have told us in an effort to improve joined up working and outcomes for people in Tower Hamlets.
My role sits within Quality and Governance as part of the GP Care Group.
Our team sits alongside a whole range of services and teams depending on the focus of our whole system reviews. For example, we talk to Social Services, the Voluntary Sector, Community Teams, GPs, Practice Nurses, Staff in the Hubs and UTC, the acute sector, the CCG, and Patient Experience Leads across Tower Hamlets.
The work of our team is very varied so there isn’t really anything I could call a typical day.
Depending on what the team is working on, I usually have a list of people I need to contact to set up interviews, and pre-COVID, most of these would involve travelling to where the person is based. With patients and carers, we used to offer home visits as often people feel more confident and relaxed being interviewed in a familiar and safe environment.
With staff and managers in both the statutory and voluntary sectors, and acknowledging the pressures most people are under, we endeavour to travel to their office base to minimise disruption to their day. Since the pandemic, our interviews are held mostly over the telephone or on Zoom and Teams, and the experience is quite different to face to face interviews, where it is easier to build trust and rapport.
There are often Care Group meetings to attend as well as our Patient Experience team meetings, reflective sessions, and supervision. As all our team are part time, but we meet very regularly (virtually) to ensure we have the opportunity to discuss ideas and priorities as well as share any progress, challenges or opportunities that have arisen.
Recently we have been talking to patients and carers about their experience of Shielding, the experience of receiving support from the Home Monitoring Service, and the impact of being digitally excluded. In the new year, we will be focusing on the experience of informal carers in Tower Hamlets.
The most challenging aspects of my role is being able to fit the various strands of Patient Feedback and experience work around my team’s more substantive whole systems reviews. The reviews often take a year to complete, whereas the other work is time limited with tight deadlines, although of equal importance and value.
I work with an exceptional team of people who have excellent communication skills, dedication and a shared set of values and sense of humour. I also have a very supportive Manager who empowers me and the team to push ourselves to the limit to help improve services in Tower Hamlets.
My team’s artistic collaborative had some artwork in the Whitechapel Gallery.
Who is Kenny Win Leung Siu?
I am a first-generation immigrant from Hong Kong. My parents moved over to the UK when they were in their teens to work in Chinese Takeaways. I remember living with my parents, three uncles, and with my two brothers in a room and at my grandparents’ house in Essex.
After some time in this house, we moved to a council estate close by to where I spent my days cycling around ‘the block’. Later, my parents borrowed some money and opened their own take-a-way in Dagenham, which we lived above from the age of 12 to 18 years. While my parents ran the take-a-away we were left to our own devices most of the time, which my mum checking up on us when she could.
I attended Local State Schools and in the beginning, I struggled with school because English was not my first language. Every lunchtime I had extra English classes. It wasn’t until Secondary School that studying became easier for me. This is thanks to my now close friend Neil who taught me how to study.
During my time in school, I was particularly interested in science and I did well enough to have the option to complete an extra GCSE in Year 10. My fellow students and teachers would say I was an enthusiastic and logical student, but also quite stubborn at times. When I was 13 years old, I once set up a meeting with my Head Teacher to justify to him why being forced to take German was a waste of my time as I would never need it in my career (I stand by that!).
After my GCSEs I went to the Local Sixth Form and studied Maths, Physics, Biology, and Chemistry. Completing my studies was something of an achievement for me and my family as I was the second person in my extended family (my brother being the first) to finish Secondary School. Having accomplished this made me unsure about what I wanted to study at University. At the time, I asked my Chemistry Teacher about Medicine being an option to study, but she effectively shut me down by saying it was only for Private School kids or children whose parents were Doctors. Inevitably I chose to study Biochemistry instead at Imperial College London where I met all my Medic friends. It was there that I realised that it is possible for me to study medicine in the near future, so after my first degree I went on to study this.
I carried out my foundation years in Birmingham and then returned to London to specialise in Psychiatry. I spent two years in core training, which I found interesting but realised it wasn’t for me. Instead, I wanted to do something impactful to a lot of people and with much more breadth. General Practice was an obvious choice.
My main hobby now is Muay Thai/BJJ/MMA. I try to spend as much time as possible training, which is effectively zero now I have twins. I have had about 10 amateur Muay Thai fights and one professional tournament. My aspiration is to have an MMA fight before I’m 40.
What are the key aspects of your Knowledge Management Clinical Lead role?
It’s tricky to explain what knowledge management is, but essentially, we need to coordinate, compile, store, organise, and distribute knowledge in an easily accessible way. My main responsibility is to lead, organise, and execute these tasks.
My team is not creating anything new, but simply utilising existing technology in an optimal way for primary care. Doing these forms as an effective communication tool to allow the transfer of knowledge to those on the frontline and then to our patients.
My role sits within Digital Accelerator Projects, Communications, and Engagement.
I work closely with the GP Care Group Communications Team and the Tower Hamlets CCG Engagement Team. I speak to these teams regularly, but I also engage with all teams because they have useful knowledge that could be shared to benefit patients through primary care.
Nowadays my main role is to negotiate pathway developments in specialties with no clinical lead. This involves liaising with secondary care colleagues to produce useful information for primary care. I also review all communications from organisations that want to distribute to primary care and give my general practice opinion to ensure content is more digestible for a primary care audience. I’d say that every day is all about acting as a medium to open and share information between teams.
What would you say are the most challenging aspects of your role?
When COVID-19 first hit the headlines, it became very apparent to me early on that those on the frontline needed easy access to all the latest information from central government, and from more local sources. At this point, myself and my team focused all our attention on trying to facilitate this and spent many hours creating and updating information on our knowledge platform. There was a lot of pressure to get this right, but luckily we have a good team and I think we pulled it off!
It can be difficult keeping up to date will all the changes on a day-to-day basis. Some days it's hard to please and align everyone’s views while making sure an optimal outcome is achieved. When it comes to these situations it’s hard to switch off, but I have to do what I think is best while considering everyone’s views. I guess good-time management and setting boundaries is quite a challenge.
What do you enjoy most, or what are you most proud of in your job?
I am glad that there is a need for knowledge management, and that the platform is used by people. As long as people want knowledge, and I am contributing to giving them this then I am certainly proud of what I do. I think communication is a very important part of running any effective organisation/team whatever the size, and I delighted that I get to do this in my work on a day-to-day basis.
I am in a fortunate position because I have a few different roles. If someone tells me one day that I’m no longer needed then hopefully my job would have been completed at that time.
Share one thing that your colleagues don’t know about you?
Some people may not know that I’ve worn many hats - I worked as a TV repairman, a Receptionist in a GP surgery, and a Hospital Porter. Oh, I also got fired once as a Ward Clerk in a hospital.
Who is Amena Shimi?
I was born in Bangladesh and arrived with my mum (my dad was already here) and three siblings in the UK, on a cold February morning in the early 80s as a one-year-old. I cannot reveal the year as it will give away my age 😊.
I have lived in Tower Hamlets practically all my life and have no plans to go anywhere else anytime soon. My heart will always belong in Tower Hamlets. I have seen so many changes over the years and not all have been good, but as a borough, we are still going strong. I just love the diversity of this amazing borough.
After my GCSEs, my life took a completely different turn to what I had envisaged my life would be like. I became a mother aged 18 so my education took a backseat. As a single mother, I had to think about getting myself a job and an education to provide for myself and my child. After a year out I went back to college to complete my A-Levels. The next step was going to University, but unfortunately due to my circumstances, I needed to work and only managed to complete two years of my degree but gained a diploma in Management.
And so, my working life began, but I wasn’t satisfied that I hadn’t managed to complete my degree. When I reached my 30s I decided that now was the time to go back and get myself that degree. It wasn’t easy working full time and taking care of home life, but I got here and graduated in Community Sector Management.
I have always worked in Tower Hamlets and have worked within the NHS for over 20 years now. Working in the NHS I have come across so many people and made some amazing friends along the way.
I have plenty of interests, some would say too many but the main one is baking. I have managed to set up a small business making cakes with my daughter, which we enjoy very much. I would give you all my Instagram details but I’m not sure that I’m allowed to advertise myself on here 😊.
What are the key aspects of your Bilingual Health Advocate role?
The key aspect of my role as an Advocate is to support the patients who are at a disadvantage due to the language barrier, and not able to access the best health care and services in Tower Hamlets.
My role involves being able to understand the cultural needs of patients as well as their health needs in order to provide them with the best support.
Another aspect of my role involves me educating patients to understand and manage their health needs appropriately by enabling them to access the right services. As an Advocate, I also assist with health promotion, such as Cervical Screening and Breast screening to make women aware of the importance of these appointments and to make booking the appointments easier.
My role sits with the Bi-lingual Health Advocacy and Interpreting Service as part of the GP Care Group.
We work alongside a whole range of services and teams, but we also work with the GP practices and the Health Visiting Team a lot.
With most GP practices we have what we call fixed sessions where we spend a whole morning or an afternoon providing support to the patients and the clinicians. In that session, we provide not only language support but also support the patient in accessing other services that may be beneficial to them. We also follow up with patients to see if they require any further help or if the support, we provided was enough.
When working alongside Health Visitors, we provide first and foremost language support. Advocates need to try and determine what the needs of the mother and baby are, and we look for signs for things such as domestic violence that may not be picked up by the HV. Our team is more culturally aware of certain aspects of the patient’s way of living and communicating. In my role, I provide an in-depth insight into the dynamics of a Bengali family. For example, I can pick up on signs that may have been missed.
I also support the weaning of babies, by helping relay advice to mums in regards to keeping up to date with child immunisations.
One typical day I would go to the GP practice that I have set session in, and check to see how many patients are booked in to see the clinicians. Some patients do not remember or are not aware of appointments so I usually will give them a reminder.
Throughout the day I check our system to see what time and where the next appointments will be. I generally have bookings in advance, but there can be last-minute ones too so always need to be prepared.
Usually, after the sessions and single bookings, I will go back to Mile End Hospital, where our Advocacy & Interpreting office is located, and catch up with administrative work.
The most challenging aspect I would say is trying to get everyone to understand our role. Our team is seen by most service users as ‘Interpreters’ but we are trained Advocates. Our roles entail a lot more than just language support which I have mentioned above.
I am proud of the fact my parents encouraged me to learn my mother tongue and know more about my culture. Having this skill has allowed me to help others, and it gives me satisfaction to know that I have helped patients in a positive way.
I also enjoy not knowing what the day will bring and who I will meet.
During my time in Primary School, I played a lot of chess and won a few competitions.
Please give a brief overview of your background
Having a mother from Dundee, Scotland, and a father from South West London my parents took the unusual step of relocating to a remote marshland village in Kent, which is where I grew up. I spent my childhood with my brother on countryside beaches and holidays with family in London. My family is very important to me and I try to see them as often as possible. I have a cousin who also works for the Care Group.
Having an illness in my teens thwarted my intention to study law, but I qualified as a nurse in 1989. I feel so privileged and proud to be a nurse. I have been there at the start of people’s lives, during their worse moments, their joy and at the end of life. I have worked in many areas and specialities, from accident and emergency to the community. I am also a qualified midwife, but I have spent most of my career as a Specialist Public Health Nurse, Health Visitor. I became interested in infant feeding from my time as a midwife, and reaffirmed when I had my own children, who are now 16 and 18 years old. Being a parent of a disabled child has necessitated part time work and there is no doubt that this limits my career progression.
I decided to specialise in infant feeding, which is an area that I am interested in and passionate about. My working role allows me to utilise my clinical and leadership skills but also creative and performance skills that I have not previously been able to incorporate into my professional practice. Outside of work I am a member of two amateur acting groups and have performed regularly for many years. I am known for ‘loving a project’ and I am always trying something new like re-upholstering, laying a patio, and making costumes. Last year I joined a running club and have re-discovered a sport I had not participated in for at least three decades.
What a day in my life is like…
What are the key aspects of your role?
I am a project manager for the ‘Baby Friendly Initiative’ and my role relates to the quality of care delivered in relation to infant feeding support. Infant feeding is inextricably linked to parent-child relationships and impacts greatly on general health in adult life. I am responsible for shaping and influencing aspects of care that relate to these elements, and designing and delivering training and resources to ensure that staff can provide evidenced based care.
Part of my role requires the development of policy and procedure for the service and undertaking audit which involves service user interviews and staff knowledge assessments.
I work closely with other health, social care, local authority, volunteer and education organisations to share ideas and experience to enhance and extend our service. My main objective is to ensure that we maintain our fully accredited Unicef Baby Friendly status and thereby improving health for the Infants in Tower Hamlets.
My role is commissioned by Public Health and sits within the 0-19 service.
I work very closely with maternity, especially the baby feeding service and also children’s centres.
Describe a typical day in your role - what do you do?
As a Project Manager I work to a constantly evolving action plan and this shapes my priorities for the day and my calendar. My role is very varied, but my activities are centred around communication. At the start of my working day I always have a large mug of tea and check my emails. I usually have a very full inbox of queries and requests for information, clinical support and guidance that I will prioritise and respond to. I find people normally respond more promptly in the mornings to my email requests for information or action.
In usual times I am most often involved in some aspect of training, whether organising, setting up and delivering courses or writing and designing programs. I deliver training to our own staff, children’s centres, the acute Trust, and volunteer organisations. Most days I am required to attend a meeting, and this can range from a small working group to national forums, London Mayors office or presenting to the Board of Directors.
Doing audits as part of my role gives me the opportunity to communicate with parents and I use this feedback in the design of health promotion resources for parents and staff training. During the pandemic outbreak I have maintained my clinical skills by assisting the Baby Feeding team in their feeding support clinics and I have undertaken some health visiting contacts. At the end of the day I always sign off after checking my emails again with yet another huge mug of tea.
What would you say are the most challenging aspects of your role?
I believe the most challenging aspect of my role is competing with priorities. The expertise of the 0-19 public health nurses mean they are working to an ever increasing remit of responsibility. Maintaining the momentum, motivating and engaging staff to maintain their exceptional standards is an enormous task but crucial for my work and extremely rewarding. Extending the Baby Friendly concept to other teams and disciplines within our organisation continues to be a challenge but one that I and those who support my role will continue to aim for.
What do you enjoy most, or what are you most proud of in your job?
I really enjoy the variety of my role and the autonomy to plan and prioritise my working day. I have the opportunity to work with some amazing colleagues some of whom have become good friends. I am always so proud of the amazing feedback we receive from our training and also from other organisations regarding our provision of service when I attend local and national forums.
I am the current holder of the Kent Drama Association award for the ‘best supporting actress’.
I was born in Clacton-on-sea in Essex and came to London in 1992 to train as a nurse, with a plan to move home after I qualified. However, I met my husband whilst training as a nurse and we have remained in London ever since. We have two children, the oldest is in Brighton in her first year at university and our son is sitting his GCSE exams this year. We both live and work in Tower Hamlets.
I qualified as a nurse in 1996 after completing the project 2000 course at St Bartholomew’s school of Nursing and Midwifery. I worked at the Old Royal London Hospital on a surgical ward for two years before moving to a medical ward in Homerton Hospital. At the end of 1998 my husband and I spent two months working in a hospital in South Africa. When we returned from South Africa I started to train as a midwife. I qualified in 2000 and worked at the Homerton Hospital in their community midwifery team for four years during which I gave birth to my daughter. After my son was born, I stopped working as a midwife and stayed at home with my children for three years. I then spent three years running a toddler group in a local church and taught on a parenting course.
In 2010 I decided to return to working as a midwife and completed a Return to Practice Midwifery course with the RCM and at the Royal London Hospital. Once I had completed the course, I started working at the Homerton again and after a year of rotating around the wards I moved out of the community and helped to set up a new team when the boundaries for maternity care were changed. I also spent six months working as a Public Health Midwife, similar to the Gateway Midwifery team in Tower Hamlets.
In 2015 I applied to train as a Health Visitor with City University and Barts Health, transferring to the GP Care Group in April 2016. I spent a year working in the South West and then when I qualified, I moved to the South East Locality in Tower Hamlets.
I have recently completed my Dissertation Module and will graduate with a Masters in Public Health in the Summer.
I cycle to work almost every day, only snow will stop me! I also try and go swimming on my day off on a Friday and I enjoy taking part in Parkrun at Mile End Park on a Saturday Morning, although my running is very slow!
I also enjoy cross stitch and have recently discovered stitch-along where you get just a small part of the pattern each month and stitch along with others in a group on social media.
Working with families under five years old, delivering the healthy child programme including six mandated contacts from Antenatal visits through to when the child is age two years for all families. I provide short term extra support for families who need this, and long term support for those with children on Child protection or child in need plans. I also deliver the MECSH (Maternal Early Childhood Supported Home Visiting) programme to targeted families.
My role sits within the 0-19 Health visiting service.
I work closely with GPs, the Midwifery, and School Health teams. I liaise with Midwifery about women during pregnancy and postnatally to ensure good seamless care is provided. I work with School Health to hand over children from families who need extra support from school nurses when they transition at five years old. I also work with GPs to discuss the families registered with them that are under children’s social care or require extra support.
There is no typical day in health visiting, each day varies. Some days I see families in our well child clinic for weight checks and health advice, other days I am running a review clinic for children age 3-4 months or 8-12 months or in partnership with the GP at 6-8 weeks. I also visit families at home for new birth visits, listening visits, or the MECSH programme.
Here is a run day of a day I had recently.
After sending my family off to work and school I head into Poplar on my bike. I often feel like Call the Midwife!
My first visit today is with a family whose baby is currently on a Child Protection Plan. There is a review conference happening next week and so I had to write a report detailing what service I have been providing the family, how I think they are engaging with health visiting and whether I think the child is still at risk. We share these reports with the family before submitting them to the Chair for the Conference at Children’s social care. Today I am visiting the family so the parents can read what I have written, and this gives them an opportunity to feedback and have their voices heard. These parents have engaged with the service and things are looking positive for them, and the plan may soon be stepped down to Child in Need plan. It has been good to see this family make changes and engage with health visiting to enable them to look after their new baby in a better way than they have their older child.
My next family are on the MECSH programme. MECSH provides visits and support to families from the antenatal period all the way until the child is two years of age. In the early weeks of life, the visits are weekly and then spread out as the child gets older. MECSH is about enabling parents to provide for their child despite what is going on around them. The programme recognises that the child is still going to grow and develop whether the home situation is perfect or not. By providing extra support and enabling families to adapt and self-regulate we are helping these children get the best start in life.
The family I am visiting have a five-month old baby girl, who is also on a child protection plan because her mother is a recovering drug addict who has had her previous children put into care. This time appears to be different; mum is on the reset programme and she is beginning to reduce her dose of methadone and will soon be completely off it. The mother is finding this hard, but she is in a better position than when she had her other two children. She has a new partner, and his family are also helping and support her during her recovery. The mother is determined to keep this child and you can see how much she loves and cares for her daughter by the way they look and interact with each other even at this young age.
She is enjoying the MECSH programme and has started taking her daughter to baby massage and sensory play at the children’s centre as well as following advice about talking and interacting with her child from some of the MECSH programme booklets. I’m hoping this family will also soon be stepped down to a Child in Need plan.
After this family I carry out an opportunistic visit to a family who are on a Child in Need plan. I am struggling to get hold of the family on the telephone and I haven’t seen the child for a few months. Although the child is now four years old he doesn’t attend nursery, which is the mother’s choice and she doesn’t take him to any children’s centre groups either. There is no answer at the door and so I plan to check her contact details with her social worker and if the number hasn’t changed, I will write a letter with an appointment time.
In the afternoon I am in the 6-8-week review clinic at the GP practice. The staff at the GP organise the appointments for this and the family are seen by the health visitor and GP in two appointments, depending on whether we are running to time this means the families are there for up to an hour. As a Health Visitor we weigh and measure the length of each baby and discuss their development with their parents. At six weeks we expect the baby to have developed a social smile, be following their parent’s movements with their eyes, looking towards lights, responding to familiar sounds and being startled by a loud noise. We also discuss relevant health promotion topics such as how to manage minor ailments in small babies, how to get in touch with a health professional, good websites for parenting advice including the local Care confidence website, when to get the immunisations done, attending baby stay and play groups at the children’s centre, keeping baby safe at home, and advising vitamin d supplement to breastfeeding mothers for them and babies, formula milk is fortified with vitamin d.
We also assess how feeding is going, whether by breast or formula milk reassuring parents that their child is getting enough by assessing their weight on a centile chart in the Red Book and we make sure parents are aware that milk is all baby needs until six months of age. We do a basic examination of baby without their clothes on when they are being weighed, we also observe for any concerning marks because safeguarding children is always at the forefront of what we are doing. The GP completes a medical head to toe check making sure baby is developing as they should. We also discuss maternal and paternal mental wellbeing offering extra support as needed. If we see the mother on their own, we will also enquire about domestic abuse. This is a routine question we ask at all contacts to make sure the family are safe and to offer extra support as needed.
Each visit or contact is documented in the child’s Red Book, which is a Personal Health Care Record that the family keep and take to appointments, as well as health professionals documenting in it. The Red Book holds a record of the child’s immunisations and has important information for parents. We also document all our contacts on the electronic record on EMIS, so my day ends making sure everything is up to date on EMIS and with me looking at any emails that have come in and need following up.
The most challenging things in my job is when children’s social care is involved and there is a prospect of the children being taken into care. I have experienced this once and found it hard not to blame myself for a parent having her children put into foster care. Thankfully we receive regular supervision and I was able to reflect on this incident and was reassured that there was nothing more I could do to prevent it from happening.
I enjoy it when I see that what I am doing is making a difference, for example the positive changes to the MECSH family I spoke about earlier, who have engaged with the service and are making the changes needed for mother to stay with her baby.
Sometimes we receive reports from children’s social care and what is on paper looks horrific, but then you meet the family and you see they are already making changes. Seeing these children grow up in a loving family who have overcome what life has thrown at them, now have aspirations for their baby and for themselves in the future, is something I’m proud to witness.
As a child and teenager, I played the trumpet and was part of a marching band. I’d love to get back playing the trumpet but it’s not the most sociable of instruments!
On December 1984 as a six-months old immigrant, I arrived in the UK with my mother. I was born in the Sylet district of Bangladesh, and I am the eldest of four siblings. I have resided almost all my life in Tower Hamlets in the Whitechapel area of the Borough, with local schooling until university. Hidden behind what may seem a fairly sensible grown man was a notoriously naughty and presumptuous (some may still describe me as such) young person who had, fair to say, caused some nuisance in the early primary school year period. Fast forward a few decades, I find myself somewhat more prudent and trying to give back as much as I can of the blessings that life has given me.
I have an academic background in marketing and business development, with an interest in social psychology. I have found myself engaged into the National Health Service very early in my career. In fact, except for a four-week Christmas stint at Sainsburys, pretty much all my other employment has been within the health sector. I am thankful to now be serving my 13th year of NHS service, I count myself as one of the fortunate ones. My health career started with a two-weeks work experience at the Royal College of Midwives, as an Events Coordinator – surprise, surprise! This led to a near year long tenure. My next stop happened to be a few stations down to Russell Square where I worked for a year for the Learning and Development team at Great Ormond Street Hospital. And this followed by joining the Tower Hamlets Primary Care Trust in 2008 as GP appraisals coordinator – and the rest is history!
Sports and food are probably my two favourite pastimes – the latter mainly to eat. A once overzealous Arsenal and England fan, now less so. An avid follower of Tennis, Cricket and F1.
A key aspect of my role is to help ensure that we have a workforce with the right skills, knowledge and attitude to deliver the best care to our population. This includes facilitating lots of training and networking to help upkeep latest subject knowledge, working ways and connect different parts of the workforce to deliver patient centred care. It also entails ensuring we recruit the right workforce, who are supported in their development and empowered to do the job they are passionate about doing!
My role sits with the CEPN aka Training Hub service that the GP Care Group host. Our service falls under the Quality Directorate of the organisation overseen by the Director of Quality & Assurance.
It is very difficult to describe just two. The role encompasses close working with many stakeholders across primary care development, integrated care system across health and social care, and also support workforce development activities of the ever-growing Care Group.
At present a lot of my time is spent on working across the integrated health and social care stakeholders through Tower Hamlets Together, our local integrated care system. The purpose being to develop synergies and a cross partnership sustainability plan to address key workforce transformation priorities in Tower Hamlets. Partners engaged would typically involve Acute Trust, Primary Care, Community Health, Mental Health, Social Care, Voluntary sector, and other wellbeing stakeholders.
And due to the development of Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STP), and the tri borough WEL working, I am in regular engagement with workforce transformation teams across North East London and beyond. Training Hubs exist in every area of the country now; the East London partnership aims to identify common challenges and themes that would add value in doing together and sharing of best practices across the patch.
The only recurring theme on an average day will be meetings; and lots of them. I do remember when I first started working, I used to look at my managers and think they must have so much fun attending these meetings all day long where important things being discussed and key decisions made. I believe I slightly misjudged the fun element. Though I am fortunate to work with so many amazingly passionate colleagues, and I do so enjoy meeting new people. However, it does sometimes get overwhelming especially when you receive circa 150 emails on a typical day!
A lot of my work is around building relationships to help connect different individuals and groups in the system. These would include at local primary care level, cross organisational and even cross sectorial. My role is to identify common themes and deliver an efficient service working together. Often education and learning are key enablers to make this happen.
I engage in a lot of work planning activities, planning of training delivery, supporting workforce transformation priorities to enable new ways of working using the tools available to us in 2020. This and thinking about how we create a rewarding and enjoyable work environment for all.
I am fortunate to have the backing of my employers to work flexibly. This allows me to plan my day around my family and doing school runs as required. This helps keep my sanity in the middle of a busy day.
What would you say are the most challenging aspects of your role?
There are lots of challenges that stem from structural changes. These are part and parcel of the job. Like most, it does take time to sometimes accept and appreciate change, particularly on a system level. However, these also present opportunities. I am also not a huge fan of overly bureaucratic and complex processes which sometimes you find yourself entangled in. I prefer getting on with the ‘doing’ and help bring positive change.
What do you enjoy most, or what are you most proud of in your job?
I enjoy talking to people. I think really highly of my amazing team in particular. I am surrounded by so many inspirational and talented people, often a lot of innovation is driven by these people. The single most important resource available is people. My job enables me to help have some amazing conversations that drive these innovations, most of which is aimed at making peoples’ lives easier. My role also allows me and the team to think ‘outside the box’ in doing things differently. The ultimate joy of my roles I guess is being able to bring joy and ease to other peoples’ lives.
Often the pride manifests in non ‘day job’ activities. My role has enabled me to connect to a lot of people – and being around for over a decade has helped this. My work privileges allow me to address socio-economic issues, social injustice, environment and sustainability, and co production of health and wellbeing with patients amongst other things. It also allows me to be involved in fun activities like cake baking and football tournaments. All of these ‘little’ things contribute towards a bigger and deeper core of inclusivity and joy which is essential to attractive and retaining good people in our workplaces.
Share one thing that your colleagues don’t know about you?
I cannot swim. Best not ask why!
I am though a keen cook - I enjoy it and find it therapeutic. What I do not enjoy is the clearing up afterwards. My favourite dishes are prawn bhuna, lamb jalfrezi and tandoori wings. I also can make decent fruit salad, but guess we all can do that.
Who is Jerome John?
In the autumn of 1980, my twin brother and I landed in Heathrow airport, a million miles away from Grenada, the tiny island in the Eastern Caribbean known as the Isle of Spice. The move from this tiny island with an average annual temperature of around 30 degrees, to the wintry conditions of the UK, was, to say the least, a shock to my young body! And four decades later, Long Johns and thermals are essentials in my arsenal of winter attire.
My education was affected in no small way by the first year spent at home with no formal education. The following years of schooling were neither enjoyable nor productive and evening classes became my route to further learning. GCSCs in Economics, Sociology, Psychology – Child Development, and later a Higher National Certificate in Business were my successes.
Most of my career was spent in the Civil Service: Department of the Environment, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (remember John Prescott?), Communities and Local Government and Department for Transport. Bureaucracy was the order of the day, but I gained a wealth of experience both in Human Resources and general administration and formed lasting relationships. After taking a redundancy package I did several years of temping in different NHS organisations and finally joined the Care Group in May 2016.
Photography was my teenage interest and still is today. I can still remember the night before my first wedding! My friend knew I loved photography and since he wanted to save money by not hiring a professional photographer, he gave me the task. I had never done a wedding before! “What if I mess up, and what if nothing comes out on film?” were thoughts that kept me up that night. So, on the big day I armed myself with three cameras hanged around my neck! I reasoned that one of them should work and I should at least get some decent pictures. I am glad to report that I did a decent job and we remained friends. But following this experience I thought it best to go back to college and study photography.
I am also interested in Poetry. I was bitten by the poetry bug over a year ago and since then I’ve written several poems, mainly for friends and colleagues.
What are the key aspects of your Corporate Services Manager role?
I do think I have the best job in the Care Group! Month by month I sit at meetings with the men and women at the helm of the organisation, recording their discussions and noting the decisions that shape the Care Group into the company it is today. A privileged fly on the wall I dare say! Supporting the Board, the Executive and its Committees is the main purpose of my role. I am also the main contact for the Care Group, dealing with calls from the public and other organisations.
My role is a corporate function and sits in the Central Administration Team
Being in a central role, I do interact to a greater or lesser degree with all the services in the organisation but, Finance and Human Resources are my closest bedfellows, as we occupy the same office.
Finance: Whether it’s booking a hotel for my Board’s Awayday or ordering a special chair for a member of staff; setting up of a taxi account or needing petty cash for sandwiches for an adhoc meeting, my Finance colleagues’ advice and support are invaluable.
Human Resources: I am often called upon to sit on interview panels or take notes at disciplinary hearings. I have always loved HR work.
No doubt you have heard of the expression, ‘the new normal’, which describes the way we now work under the restrictions (and opportunities) of COVID-19. Well here is a typical day in my new normal:
I drive to work each morning (no social distancing concerns) and begin my working day in a SitRep (Situation Report) meeting at 9am via Microsoft Teams. The first floor of Beaumont House, once buzzing with the presence of colleagues and the day to day activities of business, is now a silent space.
At 9.30am I begin to scroll through my emails, many of which are requests for parking permits and fewer for hotel accommodation bookings for frontline staff.
Throughout the day I deal with telephone calls from staff, the public and other businesses.
With most staff working from home and requiring mobile equipment or appropriate furniture, I organise deliveries to homes or staff collection from Beaumont House where appropriate.
Posts and other deliveries haven’t ceased under COVID, so my presence is still required at the office to deal with these.
And, of course, I ‘attend’ my virtual meetings where I take the minutes and write them up later.
I find the hospital garden a welcoming resort at lunchtime and, with the current beautiful weather, a place to top up my much-needed vitamin D.
I have been taking minutes at meetings for many years now, but it still remains a challenge to capture the salient bits and present them as cogently as possible for senior staff. And I must say I do a pretty decent job, but I do suffer from procrastination (not writing up the minutes as soon as the meeting is over!)
My position brings me into contact with staff of all grades, backgrounds and experiences – I love people and being of help where I can.
Only colleagues I work with closely know this about me: I love flowers and buy them for my desk. Call me soft if you like but there is nothing as beautiful as a well-arranged vase of roses, daffodils, or orchids. Also, with everyone being under lockdown I don’t have subjects to photograph so I do the next best thing – I photography flowers (which is not as easy as you might think).
I started off my working career as a Receptionist, Employment & Training Adviser and Project Keyworker for Tower Hamlets Council, at the age of 20. I worked for the Council for 23 years, and a large part of my role was to support young people aged 16-19. It was great to help teenagers get into education, employment and training. I also worked closely with special needs clients and the unemployed.
In the last five years before joining the Care Group, I worked as a Project Keyworker at Tower Hamlets Council. In this position I engaged young people with positive activities across the borough. Taking on this project helped me make a difference, because the project reduced the crime rate in the borough and students gained new skills.
After working a few years for Tower Hamlets Council, I joined Bupa in Oxford Circus and worked as a Clinic Support for five months. The clinic was very busy at times, but I enjoyed meeting a range of customers.
I later returned to work in Tower Hamlets and joined a charity called Limehouse Project in Poplar, where I worked as a Centre Administrator. Here I supported Tower Hamlets residents with housing and benefits applications, interpreting and booking appointments with their advisors and ESOL and Teaching courses for women.
I joined the GP Care Group in April 2019 as an Administrator where I mainly dealt with invoices, stationery orders, and minute-taking. After some time in this position, I was appointed to my current role as HR Administrator, where I am responsible for carrying out procedures for the recruitment of new starters. I am passionate about my job, and I want to further develop my career by studying the CIPD course in the future.
Fundamentally, my role requires handling confidential data about all Care Group Colleagues. I ensure that new Care Group starters are added onto the pre employment tracker. This is to ensure that candidates meet all the six checks, such as DBS, Right to Work, Occupational Health, References, proof of qualifications and ID, before they can work.
I am responsible for advertising job vacancies on NHS Jobs, sending out conditional offer letters, employment contracts, and creating email addresses for new colleagues.
Another aspect of my job is dealing with recruitment related queries on the telephone and via email, and also take minutes at HR meetings to have a useful review document.
As the HR Administrator my role sits within the Corporate Team.
Name two other teams/services that you work closely with
I work alongside all services and Managers across the Care Group. Having a close relationship with Managers is to make sure all queries are addressed, and any recruitment is advertised via NHS Jobs. In particular, I work closely with the Health Visiting & School Health.
Another team I work with is Payroll. It is important that I work closely with this team, to ensure that the right documents are sent for new starters and all colleagues. This requires me sending out new starter forms, change forms, childcare vouchers, as well as other confidential documents.
Describe a typical day in your role
I start my day by logging in and accessing various sites and software that I need to access throughout the day. This includes updating Excel spreadsheets, the pre employment tracker, and NHS mail to reset passwords and create emails. I also use SharePoint to access staff contracts and policies. There are other websites I need to access daily, such as General Medical Council, Nursing & Midwifery Council and NHS Jobs.
On a typical day, I answer phone calls, print and scan documents and reset passwords for colleagues. Throughout the day I use Outlook to access my emails and the HR Inbox. I regularly check my emails to answer queries.
Most days I am doing general recruitment practices, but on others I take minutes, do e-learning, and draft contracts, and conditional offer letters. The thing I enjoy the most about my job, is having a variety of tasks to do daily.
Sometimes I receive calls or emails from people who have a complaint, or they are not clear about certain information sent to them. I deal with complaints the best I can by listening and taking actions to resolve any issues. If there is something I cannot deal with, I refer people to my Manager for guidance and advice. Most of the time queries are simple, but at times they can be quite complex.
I am most proud of getting people recruited into the Care Group. I enjoy going through the whole recruitment process, from start to finish. I go from adding a new starter onto the pre-employment tracker to meeting them in person, to assure them the checks are a smooth process. I always ensure that all checks are carried out efficiently and keep Service Managers in the loop about new starter progress.
I am also proud that I created a filing system when I joined the team. This has helped the team find files with ease. My colour coding system makes it easier to determine a new starter’s position on the tracker.
Some colleagues may not know that I used to sing as a child and teenager. I took to the stage and performed in cultural shows.
When I’m not working at the Care Group, I enjoy reading, watching movies, travelling, cooking, and eating out. Above all, I love spending time with my family.
I have a Pakistani background and moved from Saudi Arabi to the UK before I turned one years old. I was brought up in London and have lived here ever since, gaining an education, progressing in my career and raising a family.
I studied GCSEs, A Levels and gained a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry with Analytical Chemistry at Kings College London. Having achieved these qualifications, I wanted to continue learning so I did a CIMA qualification whilst working full time as a Chartered Management Accountant ACMA.
I started my first job at the age of sixteen, working part-time in Sainsburys. After completing my degree, I worked as a Programme Coordinator for a chemicals and marketing company called Matthey PIC. Taking on this role helped me to progress onto a venture capitalist company called AHG Venice as their capital accountant, overseeing the development of a chain of De-Vere and Village Hotels capitally backed by the Bank of Scotland.
In 2008, I joined the NHS family and was appointed as Senior Management Accountant for a Mental and Community Health Trust called Central and North West London (CNWL). A large part of my role was to look after the community and acute mental health teams within three boroughs. After some time working for the NHS, I took a career break after giving birth to twin boys. I later returned to the organisation and was appointed to Head of Business and Transformation for North West London Mental Health Services.
I joined the GP Care Group in 2017 as Chief Financial Officer and have since been developing the finance functions and expanding this into delivering performance reporting for contracts and supporting ICT, Clinical systems across the Care Group.
Ultimately, I am responsible for the financial management of the GP Care Group. This is to ensure the organisation remains a going concern and is compliant with all the rules and regulations enforced by HMRC.
My role requires the provision of ICT including systems and hardware, but I also get to explore new business opportunities with the Executive Team. Another aspect of my job is to monitor services’ key performance indicators and send reports to commissioners and other external parties such as NHS England, Public Health.
As the Chief Financial Officer my role sits within the Corporate function and the Executive Team.
The great thing about my job is that I can work with all services in the GP Care Group. I work alongside services to support and improve their contractual key performance indicators by providing them with relevant information.
The two teams I work closest to are the Operational Team and front-line colleagues. I have a close working relationship with the Operational Team, ensuring that colleagues have the right equipment to work with. I also help the team to identify if their current operational model needs to be improved. When working with front-line colleagues, I provide them with the relevant training they need to use clinical systems and ensure they have the necessary ICT equipment to undertake their role.
It’s important that colleagues deliver a high-quality service for patients, which is why I work closely with ICT providers to improve the Care Group’s infrastructure. Working collaboratively with providers is the best way that digital innovation can help improve services.
Describe a typical day in your role
The exciting thing about my role is that no one day is typical. Usually, the first agenda on my day is to drop my kids off at school and then I make my way into the office.
On most days I’m in one or two meetings with commissioners or external parties such as banks, auditors, advisors or in internal service meetings. When I’m not in meetings the first part of the day involves me dealing with requests, going through emails and resolving issues. These issues can be either performance queries, ICT solutions or processing finance payments and reviewing cost models.
In the afternoons I spend my time completing various reports, which requires collecting data from a variety of internal and external sources.
The best thing about my role is that I can switch between finance, performance and ICT throughout the day. There is never a day that I’m not working on any of these areas, which makes my role multifaceted.
Managing different relationships externally and internally can be a challenge, because I need to ensure that pitch information and conversations are the right approaches for different audiences.
Another challenge I face is managing my time because there are always 101 things that need to get done. Prioritising elements of my work is a must, but also making sure nothing gets missed is very important, as I have to deal with both commissioning and statutory HMRC deadlines.
What are you most proud of in your job?
I am most proud of building a capable team, because we have grown so much as an organisation while ensuring our financial processes are established, robust and followed. I’d say that is a testament to the Finance team’s dedication to make sure systems are set up.
I am also proud of the improvement the Care Group has made in our performance reports and business intelligence. Services like the Urgent Treatment Centre have been praised by commissioners on their visuals and easy to read dashboard, which is produced daily. This allows the service to see its current performance and has engaged clinicians in improving breach compliance, which was noted by the CEO of The Royal London.
Lastly, the Care Group’s ability to embrace a new way of cloud-based working is something I’m very proud of. This way of working is currently being put within teams and will help with collaboration and team working across services.
These stories will give you a sense of the amazing work done by our colleagues. Please contact us if you would like to learn more about the work we do.