Tom, General Management

Posted by: nijeldurrani - Posted on:

Image of a person smiling at the camera
Image of a person smiling at the camera

What do you actually do on the grad scheme?

When I was researching graduate schemes to apply for, I was always keen to find out what my life as a graduate would look like. Looking back, I had no idea what I was about to sign myself up to on the GMTS. It is a very demanding, but also very rewarding scheme.

One of the main reasons I chose to apply to GMTS was for the varied placements you get while on the Scheme. I wasn’t from a professional background so I didn’t know what was out there for someone with a degree, so I was keen to try as many roles as possible to increase my chances of finding something I liked and could make a career out of.

Typically, on the General Management specialism you’ll do two longer NHS placements and a short trainee-organised flexi placement. Often, one of your NHS placements will be more operational and the other more strategic.

I did my operational placement at the Lister Hospital in Stevenage. I worked in the surgical division and had day-to-day management responsibility for a particular surgical specialty. I started out in Trauma and Orthopaedics and later moved to Plastic Surgery.

Lister hospital – looking much nicer and brighter than I remember!

To try to help demystify what you do on an operational placement, or what NHS managers do in their day-to-day, I have split the role out into a few key areas and will go into a bit more detail for each:

  1. Responsible for smooth running of services
  2. Line management of admin teams
  3. Dealing with issues as they arise

Responsible for smooth day-to-day running of services:

  • Checking outpatient clinics were booked when doctors were working, and cancelled or covered if they were on leave
  • Checking operating theatre lists were fully booked when doctors were working, and cancelled or covered if they were on leave
  • Reviewing operational performance against relevant national standards (eg. 2 week wait appointments for suspected cancer, cancer treatment within 62 days and reducing the routine waiting time that had increased to beyond 2 years as a result of COVID)
  • Ensuring booking practices were fit for purpose, implementing improvements wherever possible
This was my desk for part of my placement – desk space and computers can sometimes be hard to come by, so I was very lucky with this!

Line management of admin teams:

  • Acted as line manager for 5 medical secretaries and an outpatient booking team
  • Approval of annual leave requests
  • Managing sickness and supporting staff back to work once fit
  • Recruiting into vacancies including:
    – Approval of vacancy
    – Preparation of job description, person specification and job advert
    – Shortlisting candidates for interview
    – Interviewing
    – Appointing successful candidate
    – Arranging start dates and onboarding
    – Appraisals and 1:1s

Dealing with issues as they arise:

  • Doctor unexpectedly unavailable or delayed with patients waiting
    – Locating/contacting doctor
    – Dealing with impact on patient care – do any appointments need to be rescheduled?
    – Investigating cause and attempting to prevent the same thing happening again
  • Patients presenting to the department thinking they had an appointment that we were unaware of
    – Investigating communications sent to patient
    – Determining if they can be seen
    – Making arrangements for their future care if we were unable to accommodate
    – Investigating cause of any mistake/issue to prevent it happening again
  • Projector not working for staff meeting
    – Getting up on a chair and checking the cables at the back (got it working again!)
Proof the projector thing happened
  • Chairs gone missing from waiting room
    – Literally searching the hospital for spare chairs and begging other departments for some of theirs
  • Not enough surgical equipment to perform skin cancer biopsy
    – Contacting the Sterile Services Department to see if any kits that had been cleaned were available for use
    – Contacting theatres department to determine if they had any appropriate spare equipment that could be used
    – Escalating to matron who usually holds responsibility for ordering supplies
  • Case overrunning in theatres delaying the start of our afternoon list
    – Determining if surgeon and operating team will be able to operate in a different operating room
    – Finding out if team can support a late finish
    – Agreeing most clinically appropriate patient to cancel if required, and escalating to higher management for approval to cancel if required

The above covers some examples of what I have come up against during my time in an operational role on GMTS, but the scheme take 250 trainees every year into 100+ different placement organisations. So, everybody has very different experiences and there is no typical day in the NHS!

Image of a person taking a selfie in a lift. They are wearing a face mask.
Selfie from placement

About me

I grew up in Essex and was the first in my immediate family to go to university. I studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge but didn’t want to pursue a career in the sciences, so I was looking at various graduate schemes to apply to. I was heavily involved in the university response to COVID-19 as Students’ Union President for my college during the first two lockdowns. This was my first taste of operational management and lead me to apply to the GMTS.

Outside of work I’m a keen Formula 1 fan, have been known to take karaoke a bit too seriously and enjoy a night out with friends.

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Alert: GMTS Scheme applications are now closed for 2024 entry

Applications for 2025 entry will open on the 30th September 2024