NHS IMAS offers National Health Service (NHS) organisations that need short or medium term support, the means to access the management expertise that exists throughout the NHS.

Life on Assignment – a client’s perspective

Paul Ronald, Deputy Director of Finance at Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust describes his experience of using NHS IMAS.

When I joined the Trust in March 2012, I was concerned over our progress in preparing for Payment by Results (PbR) and in particular that is was largely seen as a “finance thing” within the Trust. Experience has shown time and time again that unless you can successfully engage with the clinical teams and explain the clinical benefits that the proposed changes will bring, then you are doomed to fail.

Whilst we were doing some good work on a number of fronts, I felt we lacked the story and the focus which would raise the profile of PbR within the Trust and get the leverage and momentum necessary. To address this, I felt it would be good to bring in some outside expertise who would support us in the following specific ways;

1.    To meet with the executive team and a number of senior leaders and develop a shared understanding of PbR within the context of our Trust and its aspirations and challenges.

2.    To critically review our project plan to help ensure it was comprehensive and realistic.

3.    To develop and implement with us a communications training and support plan to ensure that the requirements PbR become routine.

With Mental Health PbR still in its development I knew it would be a hard task to find someone not only with the experience, but importantly with the credibility to work with the various groups we were targeting. I was receiving any number of C.V’s from various agencies offering PbR specialists but none met our requirements.

It was then that I approached NHS IMAS who had successfully supported me before and detailed the above requirement.  What is immediately obvious is the attention given to properly scoping the role and being very precise about the skills and experience. Given the wide experience the team have, NHS IMAS are able to help shape the role and the type of candidate. This was invaluable in this particular role which was new.

The NHS IMAS core team was a great support, keeping in regular contact without being a nuisance and was very selective in putting forward only genuine credible candidates. After a few weeks, the NHS IMAS Programme Manager introduced us to Christina Walters, an NHS pool member from South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. Christina had detailed experience in relation to PbR and clinical pathway redesign, both in her substantive role and in various senior assignments with the Department of Health’s mental health currency project and the NHS Confederation. The pool member’s experience and ability to work across the organisation was very evident and we were delighted with the appointment.

Christina joined us on a six month assignment working one or two days a month on site and providing additional support remotely. As part of the assignment set up, the objectives and outcomes were very clearly set out and this really helped all of us keep focus. We followed the above steps with the pool member first spending time in one to one interviews and group discussions to assess where we were and then ensure that the project plan and the communications and messaging were specific to our needs. They then worked with us on developing and delivering a series of clinical events and setting up various support and monitoring mechanisms.  The NHS IMAS assignment has now been completed and we have a very vibrant group of clinical champions who are focused on ensuring that we improve our data quality and then use the rich data this provides to continue to improve our performance.

I am certain we would not have made the progress we have without the input of Christina’s experience and expertise to continue to nudge us in the right direction. It also gave us the confidence to stand on our own two feet when we could see the results. To get that tailored experience at a price that was affordable to us, in my view, was only achievable through NHS IMAS, where the quality and experience of candidates has been excellent.

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“The pool member’s experience and ability to work across the organisation was very evident and we were delighted with the appointment.”