Published: 22/07/2004, Volume II4, No. 5915 Page 32

Simon Hughes is breaking new ground as consultant OT in adult mental health at Tees and North East Yorkshire trust

What is your professional background?

I qualified as an occupational therapist in 1987 and have worked in mental health since then, gradually progressing up the OT career ladder. I have worked for Tees and North East Yorkshire trust for eight years.My last role was head of day services in Hartlepool, working with OTs and nursing staff. I became team leader for an early intervention and crisis resolution team.

What attracted you to the job?

Two years ago the new consultant roles in allied health professions were announced. I was heading towards a pure management role at the time and found the clinical element of the new job more appealing than moving away from direct client contact to managing teams.

What does the role involve?

Fifty per cent of the work is clinical, involving individual work with clients and some group work. I also supervise colleagues.The rest is split between teaching, training, service development and research. I am expected to display leadership but do not have the responsibility of managing a budget.Leadership comes through clinical expertise, ensuring we develop best practice and use the best evidence.

What do you enjoy most?

The fact that I can still do clinical work and being able to work with people. I am able to do ordinary everyday occupational therapy: going to the shops and doing cooking with clients, or going with them to the Jobcentre to see the disability employment adviser. I get to carry on doing the basics and fundamentals as well as incorporating best evidence and best practice.

I also enjoy the strategic elements in planning change and the challenge of moving from using research to actually doing research myself. I spend about a day a week doing this - thinking and planning, using the internet to figure out best practice from other trusts.

What is the most challenging aspect of the job?

Juggling priorities and making sure I get the right balance of doing things that are urgent and things that are important.Making sure I do not miss opportunities but also not taking on too much and then ending up not being able to deliver. I get lots of requests to get involved in many different projects but if I said yes to all of them I would get bogged down and become inefficient. I am learning how to say no and how to develop strategic thinking.

The next HSJ People special regional focus will look at NHS employment in south London. If you work for a trust in this part of the capital and have an unusual job that could be featured here, contact MaryLouise Harding at marylouise. harding@emap. com