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A Day in the life of...Anisa Sanghrajka, Management Consultant

Anisa Sanghrajka recently moved to London from the US. She joined us as a Management Consultant in November and started to support a project pretty much as soon as she arrived. Here, she gives her insight into what an average day on site really looks like, as well as her newcomer’s perspective on life in the NHS.
Published on
February 21, 2024

Since September 2023, Acumentice has supported an elective care recovery programme for an acute NHS trust. The hospital is a medium-size district general hospital which provides a range of outpatient, diagnostic, and less complex planned services.

It can sometimes be difficult to know exactly what a management consultant does, so we wanted to uncloak some of that mystery by providing exclusive access to our readers!

I joined Acumentice in November 2023 and was fairly immediately getting hands-on on-site. I have since supported the NHS client team in a project management capacity, primarily supporting an Elective Care Recovery Committee (ECRC). The key client stakeholders include the Chief Operating Officer (COO), the Divisional Directors (DDOs), and the General Managers within various specialties.

Our team travels to the Trust on various days of the week, ranging between two to five days, commuting in from all over London and elsewhere. As a newbie in London, I have enjoyed mastering my morning commute – a combination of trains, buses and walking. My ideal morning routine tends to be a coffee and yoghurt bowl for breakfast and an enjoyable book to pass the time on the train.

It has been rewarding to work on-site with the Acumentice team and our NHS clients. It has been particularly eye-opening to see how much it takes to run a hospital behind the scenes. There are a limited number of staff to perform the work across elective and emergency care, and we had the privilege to work first-hand with the hospital’s senior leadership.

Having been in the public health space previously, albeit in the US, I have always found it fulfilling to collaborate with people who are passionate and mission-oriented. In a hospital environment, you can see and feel the impact of the work we are supporting and how it is affecting patients and their families.

An additional part of the programme scope has been to support business intelligence, data quality, and validation efforts. As a non-technical member of the team, I have found it particularly helpful to listen into these discussions to understand how the current infrastructure and technology impacts the larger process and team.

The conversations we supported varied in strategic and operational scope, and through our project management approach we were able to:

•       Improve internal communication, accountability and coordination within the ECRC team.

•       Formalise internal reporting, increasing the ability for the team to visualise performance and programme data.

•       Increase operational scrutiny through the reintroduction of patient-level meetings and a trust-wide process chaired by the COO.

•       Improve governance to ensure that staff from ward to board are focusing on the same KPIs.

•       Model demand and capacity analyses to determine any operational changes, outsourcing requirements, etc, required to reduce waiting lists.

•       Help identify bottlenecks within processes and potential solutions/next steps to resolve them.

•       Receive access to data in real time and in one location.

•       Give the trust board assurance of operational grip and delivery.

As someone new to the NHS environment, below are some of the lessons I learned that I’ll be sure to add to my toolkit for my next project:

•       Being in a physical room with colleagues makes collaboration easier and makes you feel like part of the larger team.

•       It is helpful to spend time in the beginning of the project to get to know people, concepts, and processes. Let the client explicitly share anything that would be helpful to know and/or shadow conversations to learn how people do business.

•       It is OK to ask a silly question!

•       Understand the team and context when beginning the project.

•       Get to know acronyms, as they are used frequently within the NHS!

•       There are aspects of the NHS infrastructure that may seem outdated. Given this, consider limitations in time, funding, and readiness for change when implementing something new.

•       Consider building templates for key project documentation and processes. Additionally, create handover documents for internal team members who are rolling on or off a project.

•       Clearly define roles and responsibilities at the onset of the project, internally and with the client. If there are significant changes, pull the team together for a discussion.

It was brilliant to be immersed in an elective care environment, and to see how much work goes into making things function - and how many people are involved in making that so. After this first experience of the NHS, I can't wait to get my teeth into future projects that help aid elective care recovery in NHS trusts post-pandemic.

My previous experience in both health consulting and non-profits was working within the US federal market, where I worked to support the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health. It has been an interesting experience to transition to anew market and see the similarities and differences between the US and UK healthcare systems, and I am enjoying being able to improve my skillsets and work within a healthcare delivery setting.

Since moving to the UK, I have also had the opportunity to experience the healthcare service as a patient. It has been amazing to be receiving care through a universal healthcare network – my most surprising experience has been picking up a prescription and being asked whether I pay for prescriptions!

That is certainly a question I had never been asked before, but I am very grateful for how affordable the NHS is and how dedicated the healthcare teams are. I look forward to seeing how we can continue to support the NHS in its mission to help serve patients and communities in the UK.

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