"I love it here and it’s never hard to come to work. I really believe in what I’m doing."
Andrea Byles is the Quality and Safety Assurance Manager with our Clinical Governance Team:
I joined the NHS in 2009 as an administrator on the Bank. Previously I’d run pubs and cafes, whilst I was bringing up four children, and was looking for something a bit more nine to five, but I had no idea that nearly nine years later I’d still be here. Now I can’t see myself working anywhere else.
When I came to the Trust I didn’t realise that specialist mental health services existed even though I had experienced depression myself, and had seen close family members struggle with their mental health as well. I thought everything was dealt with by GPs so it was an eye opener.
It was also a complete culture shock as I hadn’t worked in an office for nearly 15 years, but I’m a quick learner and I always ask questions. So when I was offered a six week stint working with the clinical governance team I thought I’d give it a go – even though I had no idea what governance was!
At that point I didn’t really know what the clinicians did, and they certainly didn’t know what I was here to do. We didn’t often explain to each other why we were doing what we were doing and that put a barrier between us. I think that in the past people didn’t feel able to ask questions but a lot has changed and it’s very different now. I’m very nosey and I continually question what we’re doing and why, and I pride myself on making sure that people understand what I do and how I can help them.
My role is to work with teams to make sure that our risk management system (Ulysses) is used by staff to report incidents, risks and complaints. The team and I try to develop the system so that it is user friendly and staff can access the system easily. I also support clinical staff in Quality Improvement as I am the programme manager for the South of England Patient Safety Collaborative and this is my biggest passion as it’s about supporting staff to test out patient safety improvements locally. I’m out and about all the time working with staff to improve our ways of working. It’s all about continuous improvement and those small, marginal gains that add up to big change.
My Motto is “steal shamelessly”. We may have to adapt it to make it work for us, but why not? There’s no point in reinventing the wheel and most people are happy to share their ideas and ways of working if you just ask. In the past partnership working was limited, and trusts would never dream of asking each other how they did things. That’s completely changed and now it’s my first port of call.
I love it here and it’s never hard to come to work. I really believe in what I’m doing. My team is great and I get so much support from them, and in turn we’re doing our best to help our frontline clinicians. They do an amazing job and they deserve the best support services.
I’m so excited for the next year. We’ve definitely turned a corner and I know that eventually we’ll be an Outstanding trust as rated by our regulator the CQC.
If anybody was thinking about joining the NHS I’d say “come on in!” It’s a great place to work and it’s getting better. For me, it’s about kindness and coming to working knowing that you’re doing a worthwhile job in some small way.