Newly engaged

So I approach the end of my fourth week as the CCG’s new Engagement Officer. What a month it has been. At times I have felt like I have been drowning in a sea of information, my head whirling from the onslaught of wave after wave of new knowledge.

You see the NHS is a whole new world to me. My previous professional life has been deeply steeped in the voluntary sector, and I like to think that there, I am a pretty strong swimmer. I am au fait with the language, the systems, the processes. I am acclimatised to working relentlessly in a small team, with even smaller resources, trying to make a difference in a very specific social issue.

Here at the CCG I feel very much a small fish in a big pond, and a small fish only just learning to flap my fins at that.

I am in a completely new environment, with new people who appear to be talking a completely different language…but instead of letting this new wave suck me under and knock my confidence; the eternal optimist in me is looking at things from a slightly different angle.

You see, my role is to ‘engage’ the public; engage people, in the healthcare system that serves them. I have found myself thinking over the last few weeks, that I am probably experiencing the same emotions and feelings that any member of the public, any patient, any ‘lay’ person might feel when stepping into this ever-changing sea.

I am grateful that I do not know the NHS; I am grateful that I am not fluent in the language; I am grateful that I have to ask question after question after question. Because of these things, I am able to see this whale of an organisation from the perspective of many of the people it is my duty to invite and encourage to be a part of this monolith.

Because only when you can see things from your client’s eyes can you truly understand their perspective, and only when you understand their perspective can you endeavour to change their services to better meet their needs. This is a lesson I bring with me from the voluntary sector, and I feel that this particular piece of knowledge will serve me well, as I myself, learn to navigate the NHS.

Rose Westhead

Engagement Officer, NHS Leeds West CCG