Alison Wilson-Shaw on how her transferable skills have helped in her role

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Oct 18, 2022

Alison Wilson-Shaw is part of the NECS Consultancy team, based in the Midlands. Here she talks about how her previous work in the NHS equipped her with the transferable skills for a successful career at NECS.

I have worked in the NHS for over 25 years in a variety of roles, originally starting my career as an assistant to an assistant Occupational Therapist before studying to be an Occupational Therapist myself. I’ve also worked as a Service Manager, Clinical Lead for Rehabilitation, Integrated Care Manager, completed a Masters degree in Health Policy and Professional Practice, studied a PhD in Health Policy and Professional Practice. At one stage, I was also the National Network Occupational Therapy Advisor to the Chief Allied Health Professions Officer at the Department of Health, creating and facilitating a national network of Occupational Therapists to answer parliamentary questions and develop the DofH strategy for Allied Health Professionals, in relation to Occupational Therapy.

I also worked with the Leadership Council at the Department of Health and led the National Innovation in Inclusion programme across six NHS organisations. The aim of the programme was to co-create each organisation’s strategy to increase the number of BME staff in senior positions – but by the time we had completed the project, this was spanning across diversity as a whole. The outcome was that findings from the six organisations were collated into a final report and toolkit for sharing. This is currently in the Kings Fund library as an example of best practice.

You could definitely say I enjoy variety in my working life! The art of facilitation, holding space for difficult conversations, building trust and rapport, speaking truth to power, holding a mirror to organisations whilst celebrating their successes, uncovering their valuable hidden eager resources within carer and staff groups – all of these skills have been required throughout and I have been able to bring all of these to NECS Consultancy with me.

Four years ago, the opportunity came up to join the NECS Consultancy team which would involve working in an integrated way across health and social care. I was attracted to the role not just for this reason, but for the variety that working within the Consultancy team offered. I felt able to use all my previous clinical, consultancy, management experience and philosophy to support our customers and also that NECS’s approach to collaboration with customers and partners matched mine.

My transferable skills have enhanced my experience in the Consultancy team. I am a good listener, able to work with ambiguity, question and challenge constructively, am passionate about patient care and am solutions-focused. Transferable skills are invaluable and the beauty of working in Consultancy is that, by providing solutions for our customers, we are still getting the best outcomes for patients – the ultimate end goal! It is wonderful that the true impact of our work is felt by the patient. This is real added value and the uniqueness that our team offers.

For me, having many different experiences is what makes life and work exciting, enjoyable, and worthwhile. Over the past four years, including through the height of the Covid pandemic, I have worked on a huge range of programmes, including:

General Practice First5: the Midlands-based programme arose from The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) First5 initiative to support new GPs from completion of training through the first five years as an independent practitioner, with the aim to attract and retain GPs. Our report considered what had been achieved and what had worked well. The regional team found this extremely useful as they were given an excellent oversight of the positive impact of the programme and were able to use the results to engage further with the GP community.

Time 4 Care – General Practice Improvement Leaders Programme (GPIL) an NHS Improvement six-day individual development programme. Participants received Quality Improvement development to help them to deliver a project and equip them to make future changes. The programme was open to all Practice staff and my role was to identify and market the programme to the 60 per cent of practices in the Midlands to encourage and secure uptake. The outcome was a 95 per cent increase in those who took part in the programme.

The Virtual Wards Programme: The national Virtual Wards Programme aimed to provide a safe and efficient alternative to NHS bedded care, enabled by technology to support patients who would otherwise be in hospital to be at home while receiving the acute care, monitoring and treatment they needed. My role in this programme was to provide project management support to the East of England Virtual Ward Regional Team, with a particular focus on Clinical Networks and Workforce.

One of the elements I love the most of being part of the Consultancy team is being able to support and motivate staff, bringing out the best in them. Working in Consultancy, I’m able to look strategically at a problem and solve it, approaching and treating every health and social care opportunity with the perspective of “what if this was for my child, my mother, my father or my brother?” Working across health and social care in an integrated way has come a long way since 2000 when I started my venture into integrated care – at the time, a de-coding of language and NHS terminology was needed, as well and confidence and trust to successfully build and operated integrated teams.

Ultimately, if you are looking for a career in an exciting and varied role in the NHS, the NECS Consultancy team is a great place to start! I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in creating real change for the better and sharing great transferable skills.

NECS Consultancy Unit offers bespoke consultancy services to public sector organisations within the NHS and Local Authorities, working with executive teams to help them achieve their goals and improve and transform service provision.

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