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Mary Tourette - a candidate perspective on a move from the NHS to HMC, Qatar

Mary joined Hamad Medical Corporation in November 2014 as Assistant Executive Director of Business Development, she joined from Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust where she was Head of Research and Development. Read her account of how the role came about and her personal experiences of the move.

Mary Tourette’s experience of making the transition from the UK to Qatar:

I was contacted by Acertus Search and Selection about a role in Qatar whilst I was working at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.  Having never worked overseas, I had always found the lifestyle to be attractive and was pleased to have been approached by Acertus.   The process started with an informal interview with Acertus to talk about the role and discuss whether I would be suitable before being put forward.  This was followed by an informal telephone interview with Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC).  Shortly afterwards, I was invited to Qatar for a face to face interview with various people, and a formal panel interview, all of which were organised by HMC.  Once selected for the position, an offer was made and accepted and references were taken. 

The logistical side of the move can be a lengthy process and includes organising a work visa, bank accounts, health care, resident visa, temporary accommodation, furniture shipping, copies of passport, and proof of qualifications and police clearance.  HMC assist with many of these requirements however you will need to provide various documents and some of these will need to be attested by a Notary.  You can expect the recruitment process from Offer to Start Date to be around 6 months in duration.
Acertus were very supportive throughout this whole process and I also found the following resources to be useful:

 Don’t They Know It’s Friday?” by Jeremy Williams
“Qatar Residents Guide (Explorer)” by Explorer Publishing

During my visit to Qatar I was able to visit the hospital and meet some of my colleagues and I think this is important if you are able to do this before you start the role.  I also talked to a variety of people living and working in Qatar who had moved from the UK. Some of these people I had met whilst visiting Qatar and others through networking.  This was really helpful in gaining different perspectives on work and life in Qatar.  It’s good to have a clear objective and realistic expectations when you make the move to Qatar and also to have a plan for when you return to the UK. 

Depending upon your plans after Qatar I have been advised by several people that it is always a good idea to keep your UK knowledge up to date and to maintain your professional networks especially if you intend to return to the UK to work.

When you first arrive in Qatar, you are assigned temporary accommodation before being placed in your permanent residence for the duration of your contract.  Your own furniture can be shipped to Qatar from the UK and HMC assist you in the logistics of all of this.

In terms of culture, the area surrounding the hospital feels very American in style.  The hospital is very diverse and has a fresh perspective and, although HMC is very forward thinking, they still need support to develop further.  The Arabic approach is very different to the UK and I found the Arabs to be very friendly, personable and interested people.  Business meetings usually start with a good deal of conversation surrounding family before getting to the business aspect.  English is the business language used in the hospital and the dress code is slightly more formal than the UK, for women particularly.

In summary, I had had a very good experience of making the move from the NHS to Hamad Medical Corporation in Doha, Qatar.  My extensive research and investigations, coupled with the support of a forward-thinking and internationally focussed hospital made the transition much easier for me.  I fully understood what was expected from me in terms of the role and I adapted quickly to the cultural differences, like getting used to the weekend being on a Friday and Saturday!

Acertus are uniquely placed to assist your transition to Qatar due their deep knowledge of HMC and the NHS and their own personal experience of living and working in Doha. 
Acertus can be contacted on 01730 266208 and their website is www.acertus.co.uk



Leading with military precision Trust chief executive Suzanne Rankin draws on her nursing experience in a war zone to help empower her NHS staff. Jennifer Trueland tells her story

In some ways, managing a hospital is a bit like running a military operation and both involve the same sorts of leadership challenge.

That’s the view of Suzanne Rankin, Chief Executive of Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals Foundation Trust, formerly a senior nursing officer in the Royal Navy.

In both, the key is enabling staff throughout an organisation to flourish, to feel empowered to make decisions, and to deliver the best service possible, she says.

“When you’re running a hospital, the complexity is really high, there are many moving parts, you’re managing risk, you’re working with many external partners. It’s not dissimilar to running a military operation, where the operational environment is highly complex, there’s risk, and you tend to be working in coalition with other organisations, such as NATO.

“In both, you’re bound together by a sense of desire and vision to do your best for people; the public service ethos runs deeply in both organisations. There’s a moral and ethical dimension to it, and a value to it that’s important.”

Ms Rankin joined the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service in 1987, having been impressed by a school visit from a military nurse. “I thought it sounded exciting, nursing with an added dimension!,” she smiles. “It was quite aspirational – it was very select. And the big bonus was that we were paid a salary: there was more cash than a [nursing] bursary, and that’s great when you’re 18 or 19.”

Having registered in 1990, she spent some time consolidating her practice before being deployed to the Middle East in the first Gulf war, serving on the RFA Argus. “I was working in intensive care and there were some casualties, but that war was over quite quickly,” she says. She didn’t think to be nervous or apprehensive about being in a war situation. “At that age you think you’re invincible,” she says. “Then there was the whole camaraderie of being in the services. As a parent myself now, I think it must have been much worse for my parents, and of course there wasn’t the benefit of mobile phones or email then.”

A varied career included time as senior nursing officer at NATO headquarters in Lisbon, as nursing officer in charge of a 56-bed trauma and orthopaedic unit, and as a nursing adviser to the Surgeon General within the Ministry of Defence.

In that role, she had the opportunity to look beyond the military, and a new career in the NHS beckoned, firstly with NHS South Central SHA, then in her current trust, which she joined in 2010 as Chief Nurse, becoming Chief Executive almost a year ago.

She brings many leadership abilities honed in the military to bear in her current role – although not necessarily in the way you’d think. Contrary to popular belief, the military, she says, takes a devolved approach. “What [the military] taught me was something around clarity of vision. It’s about being clear about a plan, but also how important it is to empower people who work with you deliver that plan. My role is enabling people to deliver that plan, without feeling constrained.”

She’s a great believer in distributed leadership – devolving responsibility where possible – and in developing the skills and confidence of the workforce so that they are happy to take this on.

One of her priorities at Ashford and St Peter’s has been to invest in leadership and other development programmes for staff, creating a cadre of leaders, with a knock-on benefit for all staff.

“It’s about empowering leaders,” she says. “I don’t have a specific view of a leader – I think everybody has a leadership function.

She believes that resilience is one of the most valuable leadership qualities in today’s NHS – that, and staying in touch with your values as a human being. “We’re dealing with rising demand and coping with uncertainty; resilience is important,” she says. “But while that suits me, it’s also important to recognise that this isn’t a comfortable place for everyone to be. It isn’t everyone’s world. As a leader, you have to realise that not everybody is the same – my world isn’t everybody’s world.

“My ambition for this organisation, and my job here, is to create the culture and the environment so that all the wonderful people here can do a brilliant job. That’s what being a leader means.”


Recruiting to two Board level posts for Kent Community Health NHS Trust

Excellent care, healthy communities
Caring with compassion | Listening, responding and empowering | Leading through partnerships | Learning, sharing and innovating | Striving for excellence

Kent Community Health NHS Trust (KCHT) is one of the largest NHS community health providers in England, serving a population of c1.4 million. We employ 5,500 staff.  We have more than 400 teams providing more than 70 services to people of all ages in a range of settings. 

Reporting to the Chief Executive, postholders will be integral members of the Board. They will provide advice to the Board on all professional issues. Of equal importance will be their input as a Corporate Board member to the operational issues and strategic direction of KCHT.

We are seeking to appoint two exceptional individuals to the following posts:

Director of Nursing and Quality/ Chief Nurse:
The successful postholder will have a customer/patient focus and have a proven ability to foster and instil compassionate care throughout the nursing and therapies workforce as well as having a track record in delivering transformational change in a clinical practice.

Director of Workforce, Organisational Development and Communications:
The successful postholder will contribute fully to the development, transformation and strategic direction of the Trust. Leading on the development of the workforce, the postholder will create an employee-oriented, high performance culture through staff that are valued, motivated, committed and proud of the organisation and the service they provide.

Please visit the Current Opportunities page for full information and details on how to apply.


Patrick Mitchell, Director of Programmes, Health Education England discusses GP and Emergency Medicine Recruitment

Patrick Mitchell is currently leading programmes at Health Education England (HEE). The organisation responsible for the education, training and personal development of all NHS staff, HEE oversees the Local Education and Training Boards which have themselves replaced medical deaneries and includes a number of advisory boards that oversee different healthcare professions. (HEE was established as a Special Health Authority in June 2012 and took on full operational responsibilities in October 2013). HEE’s work includes programmes for working on improving recruitment to areas including general practice, emergency medicine and psychiatry. Other programmes of work are on issues such as human factors and patient safety, genomics training, preparation for seven day working.

HEE programmes include managing an international recruitment campaign where successful candidates from the initial long-listing against national standard criteria were invited to a Skype interview. Those who also passed that were invited to one of 2 international recruitment centres held in Delhi and Dubai, where again selection was carried out using the UK national assessment standards and processes. Further interviews are due to take place in London for those who could not make the overseas interviews. Many overseas training competencies for emergency medicine do not matched UK standards, making it traditionally harder for overseas doctors to be recruited to the field. Those recruited will be provided the opportunity to complete the College of Emergency Medicine’s professional exams before returning to their home countries after 2 or 4 years.

General practice is another key area for recruitment, as trainee rates choosing the speciality have gradually fallen in recent years. The sector needs around 3250 trainees a year to meet demand and though numbers in recent years have risen it has been challenging to reach 3000.

Patrick came to his role having most recently been chief operating officer (COO) and deputy chief executive at St George’s Hospital in south west London. When the then Chief Executive left suddenly, Patrick spent some weeks acting up in the Chief Executive role. Despite having previously applied for a number of Chief Executive roles in other trusts, he quickly realised the role was not the right fit for him.

“It took what happened for me to realise I did not want that type of role and that there was something else more suited to my skill set.  I had been at the trust for three and a half years and it was physically and mentally exhausting. Once I had made that decision I was not going to apply for the Chief Executive role then it was time to review my position and look for new ventures” he recalls. "I made that decision very public before the CEO role even advertised in order to squash any rumours."

“I spoke to (then NHS London Chief Executive) Ruth Carnell and she suggested going to the Department of Health to gain a more strategic view of the service. I went through NHS IMAS (Interim Management and Support) who were excellent and was appointed to 2 Director roles which then became combined between Medical Education England and DH leading the Better Training, Better Care programme and the National Medical and Dental Education and training Team. This role then emerged into Health Education England in late 2011.”

Patrick believes his background in NHS management means he is well placed to understand the issues of a system that still often struggles with the idea of putting training and education needs at the heart of strategic thinking.

“I can talk about it from the ground I have walked on. It has been interesting to bring an operational perspective to the educational side of the work. Consultants are both delivering services and training but not seeing how these areas join up.  Whereas a COO I was concerned with a doctors’ New Deal banding, not with how their training could influence the improvement of services. Managers need to see that workforce planning isn’t just something that can be left to HR at the end of the business plan.”     

Profile: Krystyna Ruskiewicz, Managing Director, Space-4 Consulting

Having the time and space to think is a valuable commodity and one that many senior executives may feel is in short supply. Yet Krystyna Ruszkiewicz, managing director of human resources and organisational consultancy Space-4 Consulting, which specialises in the NHS, believes it is vital. 

“Leaders don’t get a lot of time to think innovatively. The work I do is all about creating space for organisations or individuals to think about what they’re doing and why they are doing it. That’s why we’re called Space-4, even though it can sound like a construction company,” she laughs.   

A former NHS human resources director – she describes her last two jobs in the service, at the Chelsea and Westminster trust and before that at the Royal Marsden, as “the two best HR jobs in London” – Krystyna has been working as a consultant for the past ten years.

Her move out of the NHS coincided with the then Labour government’s work on developing new models of care within the service, including independent treatment centres (ISTCs) and initially working with a firm bidding to build and run ISTCs.

“Creating a completely new organisation is not something that you often get to do. A number of these new initiatives don’t set out to achieve what they are meant to be achieve but have unintended consequences when they change practice in other areas. The ISTC programme’s focus on surgical care changed the way the NHS thought about the market.”

Krystyna stresses that change does not have to be about organisational structure. With the acute sector currently facing turbulent times, with hospital chains and an increasing number of mergers and acquisitions being mooted in the sector, she is equally clear that tinkering with organisational structures will not solve a health economy’s deep rooted problems.

“There are ways in which one organisation can support and mentor another - especially those in leadership roles - that doesn’t have to go into the transactional side of who employs who. Very often in health we get so tied up in the transactional processes and we take our eye off what is possible,” she says.

However Krystyna adds that despite recent moves to rid the NHS of a great deal of its structural hierarchies, with the dissolving of strategic health authorities, too often, an organisational  focus on structures and transactions still gets in the way of “what really matters”. 

“My intention was always to help people respond rather than react. Often this means working with the leadership team of a newly created organisation, often as a result of bringing two organisations together. The important thing from the outset is not to use the language of integration and merger when what is actually happening is an acquisition. If it’s an acquisition call it that from the outset. “

Regardless of the nature of the work Krystyna does with those in leadership positions, there are key issues she addresses with each.

“What’s important to them? What motivates them? It’s always interesting to explore what people think about leadership,” she adds.  “If they do think about the sort of leader they admire it doesn’t matter so who they are, what is more interesting is exploring why they admire them. What is more worrying is if they haven’t thought about it or acknowledged what a responsibility being a leader is.”

And she is adamant that organisations need to understand and be clear about what they are setting out to achieve and to temper their message accordingly.
“Language is so important. Everything we do is ruled by the words that we use. How do people talk about their organisation, do they say ‘we’ or ‘they’? If they are referring to the organisation in the third person then there’s going to be a disconnect. Any organisation can have issues but it is about creating a positive narrative and it is the job of the chief executive to do that,” she says.


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