70 for 70
70 for 70

Alex Garner

"In my various roles within the NHS I have found one thing always stays the same and that is that people really care. Our staff are just genuine, nice and caring people"

I am currently the People Participation Lead for Brighton and Hove but I first came to the NHS as a Healthcare Assistant at Mill View Hospital in Hove. 

I really enjoyed the job because I had my own experience of mental health and enjoyed being able to support other people. I ended up working in a recovery support role in a community team for eight years. I loved it; it was an interesting world to be in. 

The team I was in were brilliant and I felt like we were really able to do good work. I will always remember one person I worked with who really struggled with their weight. Every time we went somewhere together they were facing discrimination for this. As a support team we looked at where this discrimination was taking place and put together a case study highlighting how easily discrimination happens and the impact it can have. Crucially the study highlighted how discrimination was taking place even within NHS services. We received a lot of attention for this study and I was invited to speak at the nurse’s conference. This was a catalyst for my eventual career change within Sussex Partnership Trust. 

For me personally this was an exciting but very challenging time as it flagged up a lot of issues particularly as I was being asked to speak in public. This was really overwhelming for me and I needed some support. I was really lucky to have great support from management and I was able to access some excellent therapy. 

From my work around discrimination I had the opportunity to work with the Equality, Diversity and Human Rights teams. I found myself moving from the clinical side of the NHS to the corporate side. It was all new but I was really passionate about equality, diversity and reducing discrimination within our services so it was the perfect fit. 

Now, I am the People Participation Lead and work closely with the Equality and Diversity Team. I really enjoy this as I feel I have ownership over my work and a real passion for what we do. I am currently writing guidance for the Trust for supporting Transgender patients. This new guidance will help our staff to feel empowered to be involved and provide the best care to our patients. I will work alongside nurses and ward managers to help them understand and take on this guidance. I am also about to start  some work with LGBT Switchboard which is a helpline for people who are Lesbian, Gay , Bi-Sexual or Transgender with concerns or queries or who just need someone to talk to. This is a really exciting move for us and will be a really good thing for our patients. 

Ahead of our CQC visits in the last few months I lead on a mock CQC visit where we reported on everything we found under the headings the CQC would use so we could see for ourselves were we were doing well and where we needed to improve. This allowed staff to be involved for the whole process and to really evaluate their own services. This was carried out with staff and service users so everyone’s voice could be heard. It was useful to help us prepare for the CQC visit but crucially it gave staff the opportunity to take ownership of their roles and to evaluate them. This self-reflection is what can lead us to providing even better care for our patients and service users. 

In my various roles within the NHS I have found one thing always stays the same and that is that people really care. Our staff are just  genuine, nice and caring people. Our staff are also frantically busy and working incredibly hard but their overwhelming desire is to help people to get well and this is why they put in the hours and so much of themselves into the work. 

I love working for a Trust that is so transparent and has such great leadership. Our executive team are keen to work collaboratively and they are really approachable and open to new ideas and suggestions. The NHS faces financial troubles everyday but this is met with a workforce of committed, passionate and caring people who are creative and resourceful to provide excellent care.