12TH February 2014

Written by Ingrid Ovenstone

If I told you that I am a Business Consultant with a career spanning 20 years in a variety of settings and that I am commercially astute, results orientated and profit driven with a strong track record of devising strategy and delivering business growth.  If I told you that I have turned around under performing companies by reducing costs, streamlining operations and improving efficiency and reliability to deliver significant immediate and long term cost savings and that I have a motivational leadership/coaching style and I strive to have a dedicated committed staff compliment as I believe that staff are a company’s best asset.  If I told you I have worked across B2B, B2C, SME, Government and Corporate environments and have built a number of successful and highly profitable businesses from scratch and that my skills were transferrable across industry sectors (this is proven as I have worked across a number of sectors) - then why wouldn’t the NHS want this type of experience?

I have a strong desire to work for the NHS  as it is very important for me to know that my contribution is making a difference to people’s lives and will help to secure a sustainable NHS.  I know that my experience should be attractive to the NHS and I have seen much talk in the media that the NHS are looking for new talent and particularly from outside the NHS to ‘help them drive forward exceptional care, and to engineer the organisation into a bright successful future’.   

As much as some may see the fact that I havn’t been in the NHS before as a negative, I see it as a positive as I bring with me a fresh set of eyes to tackle any challenge or task.  In order to gain knowledge about the NHS I have taken the time to meet with existing NHS staff to better understand the intricate workings of the organisation and the structures.  Further I have made contact with a couple of agencies with a view to meeting with them face to face to discuss my career goals as I am aware that agencies are used extensively by the NHS to source contractors/interims.

Although in some instances the response from some agencies has been friendly and I have had interesting and informative discussions with them, in others my experience has been somewhat disappointing – the worst was completely fobbed off and being told they are not interested in meeting with me because I don’t have NHS experience on my CV.   Another interesting comment that has been made to me is that ‘I need to be able to hit the ground running’ if I was to get a contract within the NHS, hence why previous experience is so critical.  I do understand all these comments (to a point) but without being given a first assignment, NHS experience will remain absent from my CV and having been involved in many businesses over the years it is key for any new employee/contractor to go through an orientation period (unless it is a returning contractor to a familiar site)

Last year in March Don Tomlinson (Max 20) wrote an article in Contractor UK http://www.contractoruk.com/news/0010983why_it_contractors_should_look_again_nhs.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter urging IT professionals to consider working for the NHS.  He mentioned that in the past NHS experience was essential to be seriously considered for any IT contract role but times have changed and now the challenge is making contractors think again about seriously considering the NHS as a future workplace and client.  Would this suggest then that the issue lies within the NHS and the mind-set of some of the hiring staff?   Are the NHS hiring staff instructing the agencies to only send them individuals that have previous NHS experience because they feel that having past NHS experience will mean less hand holding/orientation initially or is it the agencies who find it far easier to send candidates with NHS experience because having to ‘sell’ a candidate that doesn’t have NHS experience takes more work and effort.

So I push on and I am determined and am prepared to do whatever it takes to be in a position to add the first NHS contract to my CV.

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