They may not yet have formal power over the direction of national policy, but our 20 “wildcards” for the 2022 HSJ100 have the ideas that could and should influence it

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This year’s HSJ100 “wildcards” are people and organisations which could impact on the NHS’s recovery over the next year. Some have the great ideas and insight which could lead to improved services, greater recruitment and retention of staff or which would help more people get elective treatment – and ought to be listened to by the centre.

Others highlight the factors which could throw recovery off course or could themselves impact adversely on it. None are currently influential or powerful enough to feature on the main HSJ100 list, and many won’t be household names even to HSJ readers, but that could change in the coming 12 months.

We received many nominations, often staff, patients and service users who had made valuable and impressive contributions to health and care in recent years, often going beyond the expectations of their role. However to select the final 20, we focused in on those who were well placed to make an impact on the particular challenges of the forthcoming 12 months.

Dr Jahangir Alom, emergency medicine doctor, Barts Health Trust

Dr Alom has been actively seeking to reduce health inequalities – he has worked with the BBC Asian Network, mosques and Tower Hamlets Council to promote vaccine uptake and since October 2021 has been national clinical lead for the NHS staff covid vaccination programme. He will continue these efforts and to advocate for a diverse NHS workforce – and having all sections of society regard the NHS as a potential employer would help recruitment. He was described by his nominee as a “beacon of hope and a role model for clinicians all across the country”.

Rachel Burnham, director of operations, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust

Ms Burnham has been described as “an absolute powerhouse of transformation, true collaborator and public servant”. She uses Twitter to encourage the sector to share solutions and knowledge to reduce the backlog, using the hashtag #sharingelectivestuff through which she also supports tweet chats looking at specific issues and experience.

Doctors Vote

If there is junior doctors’ industrial action in the next year or so – something which would have a significant impact on elective recovery – Doctors Vote will be the insurgent organisation behind it. The campaign group has been pushing for “restoration” of juniors’ pay through getting 25 supporters elected to BMA Council, and in May managed to get a motion of pay restoration – including potential for strike action next year – through the BMA junior doctors’ conference.

Professor Lucy Easthope, professor in the practice of risk and hazard, University of Durham and fellow in mass fatalities and pandemics, University of Bath Centre for Death and Society

Professor Easthope is an expert in disaster management and recovery. Crucially, she understands that recovering from a disaster such as a pandemic is not a matter of weeks and months – as many would like – but rather years. She knows that too it is a hard slog, where all those involved can become dispirited and grieve for the “normality” they have lost. She can offer the NHS advice both on how to cope with the recovery period and how to plan for and manage the next pandemic.

The Essex and Nottingham campaigners

Inevitably things go wrong in the NHS. Some form of investigation is then ordered by the centre – but the families in Essex and Nottingham have shown that they want a voice in how such reviews are set up and run. In Nottingham, they have successfully pushed to have Donna Ockenden chair the maternity inquiry and in Essex families have rejected the non-statutory inquiry into mental health inpatient deaths. It’s hard to see future inquiries being set up without the full involvement of families and others affected.

Chris Evans, editor, The Daily Telegraph

Mr Evans is seen as leading the media charge against the NHS with many critical articles about the service and some questioning of its fundamentals. With an older readership, the paper is talking to the people most likely to use the NHS – and also most likely to turn out to vote. Mr Evans has the power to influence public and political perceptions of the NHS, important as the service battles to emerge from the pandemic in good shape and with both adequate funding and popular support.

Dr Bogdan Chiva Giurca, junior doctor

Dr Chiva Giurca is a junior doctor who has campaigned for person-centred care, social prescribing and community-based interventions – the kind of approaches which will need to make great strides if the backlog is to be overcome. He founded and chaired the NHS Social Prescribing Champion Scheme, which brought together thousands of junior doctors and medical students, and is now clinical champion lead and development lead for the Global Social Prescribing Alliance. He is also dedicated to widening access to medical schools, and is the author of a book entitled The Unofficial Guide to Getting into Medical School.

Sebastian James, senior vice president, president and managing director, Boots UK and Ireland

Boots is a high street staple and was important for the delivery of pharmacy services during the pandemic. But it also has the potential and the will to get more involved in primary care – its current offering includes online consultations for some medical problems, vaccinations, and a Care Quality Commission registered prescribing service. With new owners likely, could Mr James have even bigger plans?

Kate Jarman, director of corporate affairs, Milton Keynes University Hospital Foundation Trust

If the NHS becomes a different kind of employer, it will be due to the work of people like Kate Jarman. Ms Jarman co-founded Flex NHS which was instrumental in getting flexible working into the NHS People Plan and is now looking at the issue of childcare costs for NHS staff. She’s a consistent champion of diversity, and a passionate advocate for supporting staff through the financial tough times many are now facing.

Ifti Majid, chief executive, Derbyshire Healthcare Foundation Trust

Looking after staff is going to be important for all NHS organisations as they struggle with elective recovery. Without good staff retention and a degree of goodwill, the increase in activity needed just won’t happen. Mr Majid is said to be a chief executive who “gets” staff wellbeing and welfare and, at Christmas 2020, sent 4,000 handwritten thank you letters to thank colleagues for their exceptional efforts during the first year of the pandemic.

Dr Rizwan Malik, clinical lead for radiology, Bolton Foundation Trust

Timely accesss to a range of diagnostic modalities, and potentially increased capacity for some, is a pre-requisite for effective elective recovery. So too is efficient reporting of results. Dr Malik has been central in implementing a single PACS system across Greater Manchester. At the trust, he led on introducing an AI-based decision support tool which helps physicians interpret chest imaging. He led a call to arms for increased home reporting during the pandemic, has supported minority ethnic clinicians, and contributed to screening programme recovery and to vaccine rollout.

Rukeya Miah, deputy associate director of nursing and senior midwife, Bradford Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust and Bradford District and Craven Vaccination Programme

Ms Miah has used case studies and testimonials from service users to encourage minority ethnic groups to access healthcare – especially covid vaccination. High vaccination rates will be crucial to keeping emergency demand under control in the coming months. And Ms Miah’s work is said to be influencing the workforce: she has been described as a “role model and an inspirational leader who continues to inspire and motivate minority ethnic staff to progress in their careers” – important at a time when staff have been working under sustained pressure for an extended period.

Jack Monroe, writer, journalist and anti-poverty campaigner

The bootstrap cook knows about poverty and its effects from personal experience, and now campaigns on the issue. With high inflation and many struggling to put food on the table, the impact of poor nutrition is likely to become a problem for the NHS in the coming year – but there will be deepening worries too about patients who can’t afford to take time off work for appointments or procedures, adding to health inequalities. And, with some trusts already running foodbanks for staff, this won’t be an issue which just affects patients.

Paul Najsarek, lead for health and social care, Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers (Solace)

Mr Najsarek, the former chief executive of Ealing Council, has long been recognised as an innovative thinker who constructively engages with health colleagues to explore the role local government can play in improving the wellbeing of local populations. This is not only about recovering from the impact of the pandemic – where social care is vital to get patients out of hospital and allow more elective work – but alleviating long-term pressures by investing more in prevention and early intervention. It’s also about realising the vision of integrated care systems and improved collaboration between partners in a local area.

Andi Orlowski, director, Health Economics Unit

Population health management may be a buzzword but it describes an important concept. Understanding the health needs of communities will be crucial for ICSs and will help recovery by ensuring the right services are provided to meet those needs. Mr Orlowski and his team provide the expertise and analytics to make this happen. He is also a strong and informed voice on how data can identify health inequalities and how such gaps can then be addressed.

Dr Pramit Patel, chair, NHS Confederation PCN Network and lead PCN clinical director, Surrey Heartlands Integrated Care System

Dr Patel has already influenced the Fuller report into primary care. As the lead PCN clinical director in author Dr Claire Fuller’s ICS he has provided a practical example of how GPs can be brought together and build relationships with local hospitals. This is what Dr Fuller’s report envisages happening on a wider scale and Dr Patel can both show how it can be done and warn of the pitfalls.

Natasha Phillips, clinical nursing information officer, NHS England

Doctors tend to have strong views on IT in the workplace but nurses’ voices are heard less often – despite being the largest profession in the NHS and therefore a key group of users. Ms Phillips is passionate about amplifying that long-under heard voice as digital transformation progresses. She oversaw the development of What Good Looks Like framework for nursing, issued by NHSX before it became part of the NHS England transformation directorate. That framework is designed to help nurse leaders support digitisation in their own organisations. She is now chairing a review exploring how nurses can be supported to effectively practice in an increasingly digital age of care delivery – a crucial question to answer if the government’s continuing desire to digitise the NHS is to realised.

Distie Profit, general manager, Oracle Cerner UK

NHS England’s “convergence strategy” for electronic patient records – which encourages integrated care systems to have the same EPR in place across constituent organisations – is basically a bet that a small number of suppliers will be able to replicate their success across wider areas. Oracle Cerner is key to this, supplying all of north west London, all of south west London, most of east London, all of Surrey, and most of Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire ICSs. If it is able to replicate this in other regions, Ms Profit will potentially be helping make widescale integrated care a reality for patients and staff.

Dr Mohammed Sattar, GP partner, Woodhouse Medical Practice

Dr Sattar has set up a BAME network for those working in primary care in Leeds which offers insights into staff and patient experiences which can be used to narrow the health and wellbeing gap. He is part of the “root out racism” campaign in West Yorkshire Integrated Care System – and has recently become a clinical director in his PCN, as well as developing digital champions in his practice.

Ade Williams, director and superintendent pharmacist, M J Williams Pharmacy Group

Mr Williams is developing a reputation as a population health thinker and clinical innovator, who took a proactive approach during the initial phase of the pandemic such as setting up a pharmacy delivery scheme for vulnerable patients which was then adopted in other areas. He is said to be keen to become part of the fabric of the local NHS and to see pharmacy maximise its contribution to the wider system – something both the Fuller review into primary care and the secretary of state for health and social care are also enthusiastic about. 

Also read:

HSJ100: Power reshapes around the new bosses

HSJ100 reveals how IT figures lead the list

HSJ100 full list: The most influential people in health

HSJ100: Judges