A&E consultant Nick Jenkins has swapped his scrubs for a suit as part of a national programme to bridge the gap between medical professionals and senior management.
A ten-month placement at Hillingdon Hospital will see him report directly to the chief executive on a number of projects, including seven-day working and the potential introduction of ‘physician associates’, who will help bridge the shortfall of junior doctors in the NHS and lead to less reliance on temporary staff.
Nick, who is on secondment from Heatherwood and Wexham Park, said: “It goes along with my ethos that, if you complain that something isn’t working, you should be prepared to roll up your sleeves and help find a solution.
“The Government has said it wants to see clinicians taking more leadership roles in the NHS and, with the right training, I think we have a lot to offer.”
The 38 year-old, who has aspirations to become a chief executive himself one day, says good people skills are often as important as clinical ones.
“We are in the people business at the end of the day, so compassionate care should always be a priority,” he stressed. “I find a lot of my time in A&E is spent listening and talking with patients and relatives.
“It may sound secondary to treatment but it’s important because people want to know you care and are interested in their welfare. It’s also about respect because people aren’t just bed numbers or conditions.”
Nick underwent a tough selection process for the NHS Leadership Academy course, which hand-picked 35 clinicians to work alongside executive teams around the UK. Fifteen further candidates were recruited from outside the NHS, including a former army officer and a senior executive from the AA.
“I think they knew more about me by the end of the process than I knew about myself,” added Nick, who underwent a series of psychometric and personality tests after seeing the course advertised on Twitter.
The successful candidates then spent a month studying the latest management thinking at Harvard Kennedy School of Government in America.
“It was a fantastic experience and the challenge is how to take those models and ideas and apply them outside academia,” he said.
“The over-arching challenge is always how to deliver more for less without compromising safety and quality.
“One of my key projects will be looking at the introduction of more physician associates, who support doctors in the diagnosis and management of patients.
“They are trained to perform a number of roles, including taking medical histories, performing examinations and diagnosing and treating illnesses.
“They work under the direct supervision of a doctor and usually have a science-orientated first degree, to be able to get on to one of the training programmes.
“They are very popular in other countries around the world, providing much-needed care to patients.”