Bryony Freeman On changing times at CHI

Published: 01/04/2004, Volume II4, No. 5899 Page 33

I started my second NHS management training scheme placement at the Commission for Health Improvement at the beginning of January and am working in policy and development. After the unpredictability of working in Africa, I have enjoyed the stability and calm at CHI and have been made to feel very welcome.

Today CHI is replaced by the Healthcare Commission. The next few months will be a challenging time for staff and I hope to be able to support those around me. I have enjoyed getting stuck into my project and think it will be very good training for me and a great opportunity to develop skills in strategic areas and policy development.

Being in Africa has also given me a renewed enthusiasm and appreciation for the NHS - so often we focus on what we are doing wrong, but with a different perspective it is easier to appreciate that there are so many things right about this country and the NHS.

The second placement on the management training scheme is a chance to gain some experience in strategic and policy writing.Most trainees I know went to primary care trusts, but I jumped at the chance to work at CHI as this is such an exciting time.

I also have the added bonus of a very supportive line manager providing me with regular feedback. The project I am working on relates to the commission's proposed response to serious service failures.

This has involved me in research on the policies of other regulatory bodies. I have also had the chance to sit at my desk and read. I cannot remember having the time to read everything I wanted to in hospital management so this is a more productive way of working.

Trying to gain an understanding of the current climate at CHI has also been educational. In times of organisational change and development you learn so much about the best methods of communication with staff, ensuring morale remains high and of course including staff in changes.

I have also relished the opportunity to spend time working with, and learning from, key members of CHI who left at the end of March.

I am also enjoying experiencing life at the new commission under chief executive Anna Walker.

This is the time in the life-cycle of a trainee to start thinking about employment after the scheme. I have begun looking around for jobs in operational management in London - there are certainly some challenging prospects out there!

However, I have narrowed down the search to specific hospitals and the level of management to which I feel I will be suited. A number of trainees stay in their second placements after the scheme. But I think that although the scheme offers some experience in hospital management, I need to go back and consolidate the learning and skills.

Searching for a permanent job in hospital management will bring with it all the challenges for which the scheme prepares us.

Bryony Freeman is an NHS management trainee