Life on an NHS IMAS Assignment

We hear from NHS IMAS pool member, Kim Nurse, about her NHS IMAS assigment supporting NHS England and NHS Improvement and how she fit this part-time assignment around her permanent role at an Ambulance Trust.

Kim Nurse

I am an Executive Director of Workforce and Organisational Development for West Midlands Ambulance Service University NHS Foundation Trust.

About the programme I am currently working on as an NHS IMAS assignment…

I undertook an NHS IMAS assignment with NHS England, providing workforce assurance in support of a brilliantly innovative national programme that introduced Proton Beam Therapy (PBT), a particular type of radiotherapy used to treat cancer into England.  The first site was opened in late 2018 at The Christie Foundation Trust in Manchester, which is now delivering PBT services to patients.  A second site is being developed at University College London Hospitals near Euston.

My typical day involves…

This was a part-time assignment, which I undertook around my permanent role.  My key responsibilities were to provide workforce assurance to the national PBT Programme Team at NHS England and NHS Improvement, that the people measures were in place to deliver an effective service.  This took the form of regular meetings with colleagues at both sites in England, discussing their Workforce Strategy, workforce planning and recruitment arrangements and receive assurance that there was sufficient progress in the delivery of these plans.  Assurance was also sought against agreed criteria for compliance in training and development, as well as a robust succession planning process for qualified professionals in each discipline, to meet patient and service needs.  This was important as the services are implemented and as each will gear-up for growth and expansion of the treatments available in the future. I also engaged with national leaders to ensure the PBT workforce implications for radiotherapy (and other specialist areas) were promoted within the wider NHS.

The best thing about my job is…

I met a team of extremely committed and passionate people in healthcare, solving complicated problems to deliver a brilliant service to patients in England.  And it means world class life saving PBT treatment is now available to NHS patients in England for the first time.

What I have learnt in this role?

As this was a national assignment, I was keen to learn all I could about this important new service.  Although I have my professional knowledge and experience as a HR Director, I recognised that I needed to understand and appreciate the type of environment and issues that staff working in this area would face.  The team not only made me extremely welcome, but I soon discovered that we had many things in common as well as a host of complementary skills we could use in all aspects of our work.  I quickly felt a full member of the team, and that being engaged on a part-time basis in no way left me out of the discussions.  Everyone was open and helpful.

What have you learnt from your NHS IMAS assignments?

Working in different healthcare environments has enabled me to get involved with services and people that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to work with previously in my day to day Trust activities.  I have also developed my interest in science related professions.

What advice would you give others who are about to undertake one?

I would definitely recommend that given the opportunity, to go for it. These NHS IMAS assignments have enabled me to broaden my experience and work alongside very talented professionals from a wide range of backgrounds and interests.  It’s an opportunity not to be missed!

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