my brilliant career - clinical governance

Published: 05/12/2002, Volume112 No. 5834 Page 32 33

Specialising in clinical governance has given Eleanor Murray the chance to influence people at every level of the organisation. She speaks to Lyn Whitfield Name: Eleanor Murray Title: Clinical governance manager, Hammersmith Hospitals trust Age:31 Salary:£45,000-£48,000 Describe your job I look for innovative ways of making clinical governance ideas work in a complex organisation.

I want to make sure that people do not have to think about 'doing' clinical governance. I want them to just do their jobs, but with good systems in place so that clinical governance is done as well. That might mean having good incident reporting or good consent procedures.

For example?

We set up the trust intranet to put clinical governance information on it. That was a very good project because there was a lot of clinical ownership. It is now possible to report incidents online and more people are becoming involved.

It has created its own energy.

A project to develop cyber-cafés for trust staff reached the shortlist of HSJ 's Health Management Awards last year. How do they fit in?

I have always thought you must support initiatives with education and training. We had support for the cafés and an intranet trainer, who moved the [project] forward. She encouraged night staff, junior doctors and lots of others to use the technology, and that has had a knock-on effect on the clinical governance agenda.

What qualifications do you have?

A history degree from York University and an MA in health services management from Manchester University. I have done a 'change masters' course and a project management course with Ashridge Management College. And I have started an MSc in organisational behaviour at London University's Birkbeck College.

How has your career developed?

In 1993 joined the NHS management training scheme. I graduated [from the MTS] in 1995, and finished my MA in 1996. Then I did a number of operational roles, which were useful for the job I am doing now because they showed me how staff work, the day-to-day issues they face and some of the areas for improvement.

Then I got a secondment as head of clinical risk management for a year. I love new roles and this job was to design and implement a clinical risk management system for the trust. It was a brilliant opportunity to work with clinicians and think about things from a corporate angle. Then the clinical governance manager job came up.

What skills do you bring to your role?

I line-manage a small clinical governance team, but beyond that I have to be able to persuade people at every level of the organisation - and outside it - to try new things and work in new ways. The other important skill is a sense of appropriate structures and processes: a sense of what works well and what will just end up being bureaucratic.

What has been the high point of your career?

Receiving recognition from HSJ was nice. But quite small things can be high points, like seeing a team working in a multi-disciplinary way or seeing a group of staff using a new system.

What else might you have done?

I might have become a lawyer. Before I joined the MTS, I spent four weeks working for a law firm and was accepted onto a law conversion course. I didn't do law because I wanted more variety in my career than it would have offered.

What do you do to relax?

I do a lot of sculling. For the past four years I have been trying to make the British squad, which has meant 10-12 sessions per week - early in the morning, after work and at weekends. I did row for England at the home countries regatta in Ireland in 1999 and there was a point when I thought I might give up work and really go for it. But in the end, I enjoyed my job too much to spend three or four sessions on the water every day - if I got in. I have also trained as an aromatherapist.

What are your ambitions?

I would really like to help influence how human resources works in the NHS, and make it more central to the way trusts work. I think that links into my interest in organisational behaviour. But I do not have a specific job in mind. I have always been a great believer in the idea that you should not plan your career so rigidly that you cannot take advantage of opportunities as they arise.

Do you have any career advice?

I think it is important to get some operational experience, so you understand how the service works and therefore what will and will not work when you operate at a more corporate level. l Just the job Title: Trusts may have clinical governance 'facilitators', 'co-ordinators', 'managers' or 'head of ' - though the first tends to be a junior post and the latter found mainly in larger organisations.

Salary:£25,000 and up for junior and middle management posts;£40,000-£50,000 for 'head of ' posts.

Evolution: Most people 'doing' clinical governance have a clinical background and many have seen their role evolve out of clinical audit or clinical risk management. However, this is changing and more people are being appointed with general management backgrounds.

Prospects: The medical director or head of nursing is still clinical governance 'lead' in most trusts. However, some of the largest have created 'director of ' posts that suggest clinical governance is working its way up the board agenda - with something of a time lag in terms of titles and salaries.