The End Has No End

Posted by: Carl Mackie - Posted on:

So this is it. My last ever blog post as an NHS Graduate Management Scheme Trainee. I’m not too sure what to say really. I suppose I’ll start with an apology – my blogging output has really dropped off for the past couple of months: oops! Let’s just say it has been busy and hectic and otherwise hard to explain.

Work has been amazing (as well as tiring, stressful and difficult). The project I’m involved in here has been pressing on at a relentless pace, and knowing that I’ll be leaving in September meant I’ve put more pressure on myself to leave it in a good place for when I finally hand it over to my colleagues. For those that can’t remember – and who could blame you after so long an absence from this blog! – I am working in a large Mental Health Trust, trying to build and implement RiO, an electronic patient record system. When it started, everything was under control, but there have been times recently, especially when working closely co-designing aspects of the system with clinicians, that I’ve just felt like I can’t win, and that the Trust can take it or leave it. Getting clinical engagement is hard, but once you have that engagement, managing expectations can be even harder.

The Trust is extremely risk-adverse. This is great in some aspects, especially safeguarding, but it can be stifling when trying to innovate. Identifying clinicians with an ‘I’ll try anything once’ attitude is absolutely crucial to implementing any new change. We have made real headway on this, and seeing how having buy in from just one clinician can slowly snowball into an avalanche of progress, or how what you thought would be a dull meeting can turn into a room on fire, has been wonderful, and I feel really sets up the final system go-live to be a great success. I wish all my colleagues here the best of luck with it – when I call you in deepest darkest February asking how the implementation is going, make sure you call me back!

My relationship with UCL, where I’ve just completed (hooray!!!) my Health Informatics Diploma – Masters, I’m coming for you next! – has been something between love and hate. I’ve absolutely loved all of the content – yes, even you Information Governance! – but found packing in time for the assignments extremely hard. Many late nights staying up reading case studies about failed IT projects or data protection law (and they say life is simple in the moonlight! Pah!) all felt worth it upon getting my final grades back. Well done to all the rest of the HI cohort too, who have each busted a gut to be so successful. Well done team: someday when we all meet up (soon hopefully), the first drink’s on me!

So what’s next? Well, I’m pleased to say I’ve accepted a job at a large Acute Hospital Trust as a Transformation Delivery Manager. It’s a little step away from the pure informatics I’ve been consumed with over the past two years. Call it fate, call it karma, but I am really looking forward to working in a more operational role, attempting to create an environment that utilises all types of innovation to help improve the care people receive from their local hospital. I aim to do this in a person-centred way – you can’t keep your heart in a cage and look at these huge institutions in purely economic terms (despite what the government might hope you believe) – these buildings form the centre of communities and we have to engage with these communities to provide the kind of care they want to see in the manner they want to receive it. We can’t do this under cover of darkness either, especially when the eyes of the world are upon us – we need to communicate with everyone: our patients, our staff, our commissioners and others as to how we see the future, how we will get there, and what this will mean for our local population.

Last night I reflected upon my time on the scheme. It really has been a wonderful experience, from the hundreds of connections I’ve made (and some really close new friends) to the knowledge and skills I’ve developed. Everyone associated with the scheme, all those working tirelessly at the Leadership Academy, the other learning institutions, and all those unsung heroes who have taken time out of their busy schedules to share their experiences and expertise, or help with those difficult administrative tasks that the NHS can seem so fond of, deserves the biggest of thanks for making this such a great time of my life. It’s a shame you only live once, because I’d love to do this all over again.

So whilst this is an end, it isn’t an end really. Everything I’ve learned I shall take with me and use to improve this greatest of British institutions, so that it can continue to serve us far into the future.

It’s 12:51 now and I’m late for my lunch, but before this blog comes to an automatic stop here’s a challenge for you (and a bit of a reward for getting this far!). Throughout the blog I have dropped a number of references to a band – catch me on twitter if you know the band and a special prize if you know how many references. Also catch me on Twitter if you have any questions about the NHS, the graduate scheme or if you have any ideas about how we can improve patient care. You’ll find me @carlphimister

Thanks so much for reading – the next time we speak I’ll be a fully-fledged grown-up in a proper job! I can’t wait!

Carl Mackie

Hi, my name is Carl. I used to be an English Teacher, and before that I worked for an adult mental health service in Liverpool. Some of my hobbies include reading, climbing and following the mighty Arsenal FC. I joined because I'm passionate about improving people's lives, and saw my skills as a good fit for the scheme. I believe that technology is giving us an opportunity to improve people's health outcomes, and I want to be a part of this change.

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Applications for the September 2021 intake will open in October 2020