Experience on an NHS IMAS assignment

We hear from NHS IMAS pool member, Nette Carder, about her NHS IMAS assignment providing leadership support to the operational team at a Foundation Trust.

Nette Carder

I joined Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH) in February 2020 as they needed an experienced Director to provide leadership to the operational team whilst a new Chief Operating Officer was recruited. My initial key responsibilities included working as part of the Executive Team to support the Care Group Directors with operational service delivery and performance improvement.  In March, Covid-19 hit and the Trust quickly moved into emergency planning mode,  establishing Gold Command and working in a very different way to manage the ever changing demands of the pandemic response. This was no longer a conventional interim assignment, as the COO was key to Gold Command process. The Executive Team were magnificent, everyone stepped up to the plate, and all RDaSH staff did whatever was necessary to ensure that we were able to respond effectively and protect staff and patients. Staff well-being was kept absolutely central to the process and response. It was perhaps one of the most tiring and challenging assignments I have done, but also one of the most enjoyable. It used all my skills and 20 years of Director experience - but it was a real privilege to be part of the NHS at that time.

Have there been any examples or situations since Covid-19 which have made you feel an additional sense of pride in working for the NHS?

The way that NHS staff rose to the challenge of the pandemic, whilst also keeping the needs of individual patients and staff at the forefront. I have never felt so appreciated by the public - even NHS managers got offered free Cadbury Creme Eggs in the service station on the M6. I could have cried…

It was also wonderful to be part of a Trust that was so clearly loved by its staff - and whose staff were obviously valued and appreciated by the Trust.

Have there been any learning points from your assignment at RDaSH?

That nothing is impossible if people have a clear, common goal and the focus on getting things done. Good decisions can be made both quickly and effectively - sometimes in the NHS the emphasis on process and governance can delay timely action.  At a time of crisis, almost everyone will step up to the plate - and at times like this, the NHS and its staff are magnificent.

What advice would you give to other NHS IMAS pool members or anybody considering joining the talent pool?

I would recommend it. It’s a great way to work with different organisations and to use your skills to make a difference. Every Executive team and Trust is different and you learn from all of them - and usually make new friends and colleagues too.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

If only you listen, people will tell you everything you need to know. Everyone has something of value to contribute.

It will be fine in the end. If it’s not fine, it’s not the end.

For more Life on Assignment case studies please go to the archive page.