Sarah Peters, Senior Consultant for the NECS Consultancy Midlands team shares her experience of working on the Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment Programme.
It is twelve months ago to the day that I started work on the Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment Programme in the East of England. At that time I had been with NECS for three months and it was my second assignment.
Something new and different to get stuck into I thought…
I remember very clearly the day I started on the programme being confronted with a considerable array of new acronyms (such is the way within the NHS) and having to quickly assimilate a huge amount of information to get up to speed with the project, which was some nine months in.
To add to the complexity, on top of getting to grips with the project reporting, the deliverables, the risks and the operating context and political landscape, I was simultaneously inducting three new team members and showing them the ropes.
I have to say – I loved it. I thrived on the challenge. The immediate demands and focus of this programme often change week-to-week, even day-to-day on occasion, and the fast pace of delivery is really quite extraordinary. Although at times the project has been exceptionally demanding, it has been rewarding in equal measure.
The immediate assignment team I work with are geographically dispersed across the UK – remote working at its best. Together we successfully assure the vaccination workforce are in the right place, at the right time, in the right numbers, with the right skills to deliver the vaccine. We cover a wide geographical area – from Norfolk down to Mid Essex and across and back to Milton Keynes – quite a patch!
Upon reflection the outstanding teamwork has been one of the most rewarding aspects of this assignment. Even though I still haven’t met any of my immediate team face-to-face, we have built an exceptionally strong and trusting working relationship. We speak every day via MS Teams and we regularly check in on each other to make sure we are all okay and everyone has the support needed for the day and week ahead. As a team we also work really hard to create learning opportunities for one another and to proactively stretch and develop ourselves in a supportive team learning environment.
On the social side we have managed to arrange a series of virtual social events at key points over the last year and now each have a mini figure (pictured) of ourselves (gifted from Secret Santa) as a small memento of an extraordinary project.
Working with the extended team of Lead Employers, the National team, Systems and volunteer organisations has been really rewarding too. I have been blown away by everyone’s professionalism, hard work, innovation, enthusiasm, resilience and just a willingness to ‘get the job done’. The team effort has been exceptional and it’s not just me that’s recognised this, with stakeholders being shortlisted in Parliamentary Awards – amongst other accolades.
I can honestly say that this assignment has been one of the highlights of my career so far – and I’m getting on! It is without doubt the job I will tell my grandchildren about. How I played a small role in delivering the 14.5 million vaccinations doses (so far) across the East of England – and in doing so saving lives, preventing severe illness and helping to release hospital beds for other much needed treatments. I really feel this assignment has given me the opportunity to play a very small part in the phenomenal history of the NHS.
In delivering the vaccines we have also been able to attract, develop and retain a huge number of people to work in the NHS – we’re at 5,041 so far in the East of England – and counting! A great team effort and again, something that I am extremely proud to have been part of.
As is the nature of consultancy, I know that my time on this project will soon be coming to an end. I have learnt so much and made so many friendships that I know will stand the test of time – for which I am incredibly grateful.
I know that my next consulting opportunity is just around the corner and I’m sure it will bring the opportunity to make a meaningful difference in equal measure to this assignment.