• Darren Atkins

Building a Centre of Excellence #2 - Meet the Team

Updated: Oct 21, 2019

Is it better to hire automation developers and teach them about your business, or empower the existing workforce to learn how to develop intelligent automation solutions?

Without doubt, the best way to build your Centre of Excellence is to invest in your own people. The NHS is an incredibly complicated process machine and it has taken me several years to fully understand the plethora of patient pathways, medical terminology, develop a network of key contacts and build a good reputation and the trust of my colleagues. Yet, it has only taken me 18 months to become competent with the range of intelligent automation tools within my toolbox of creativity.


My own team are proof that this approach is the right one.

Isobel George (Izzie) joined the NHS three years ago as a Band 3 Service Desk Administrator. I spotted Izzie’s talents by observing her involvement in managing a time critical and complex project. She displayed determination, motivation, the ability to smash down obstacles, try new ideas, communicate with staff at all levels and was brilliant at applying logic and problem solving.


Isobel George

With zero knowledge or experience of software development, she identified a process around outpatient appointment cancellations that she developed on her own in just 3 weeks. An automation that stopped Colchester Hospital wasting 13,000 outpatient slots and £2.1m per year. Izzie has won awards, received a personal commendation from our Chief Executive Nick Hulme and was also featured in The Evening Standard. Izzie’s own catchphrase “there is a solution to every problem” is one we call upon each and every day.


Ian Mitchell was our Service Desk Manager and joined the team 15 months ago. As Service Desk Manager, Ian was excellent at problem solving, applying logic to critical situations, understanding risks and taking action. Ian also gained extensive knowledge of how a hospital works, had hands-on experience of supporting clinical systems and had a large portfolio of key contacts. Ian had no development experience.


Ian wrote our most complicated process to date by using bots to review incoming referrals for our Cardio-Respiratory department, using complex analysis of unstructured data to determine, and book, the necessary diagnostic tests for patients. This has saved the department over 5000 hours a year, improved data accuracy and has dramatically sped up processing time. What is more significant is the hours saved were worked unpaid by the Cardio-Respiratory Team in their own time. Just imagine how positive our clinical staff feel.


Ian Mitchell

Ian has recently worked with me on developing an incredibly complicated multi-layered process for managing patient flow across our Urgent Treatment Centre and A&E in just four weeks. He worked long hours to deliver this on time. Why?


Simple – he cares for our patients and understands how we can all collectively improve patient outcomes. It is estimated that this process will deliver over 8000 hours per year back to our A&E admin team – that’s 194 working weeks worth of time! This process is also time critical. The quality of the development code needs to be efficient to ensure patients flow through the department in a timely manner.


Ian’s cardio-respiratory automation was a major contributor to the team winning a parliamentary award this year and of course the ESNEFT Staff Award for Time Matters.


All of my team are enjoying successes we never even thought were possible – dreams like these don’t happen to a bunch of misfits like us (that’s our pet name for each other). We are a family. If one of us has success we all are responsible for it.


When I am standing at Microsoft Future Decoded speaking to over 4000 people, whilst they are not there, I feel my team are standing beside me.

©2019 by somethingincredible. D Atkins
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