Recently, we started a regular feature where we speak to one of the NELFT Non-Exectutive Directors every month to find out about their roles and what skills they bring to the organisation. The first interview was with Brian Hagger and can be seen here: Link
At NELFT, we have seven Non-Executive Directors (including the Chair Joe Fielder). Non‐Executive Directors are members of the Trust’s board of directors and are appointees rather than employees. Their role is to contribute (collectively with the executive directors) to the strategic direction, leadership and management of NELFT, and to provide challenge to the executive directors and to bring an independent perspective to the boardroom.
For this month’s NED feature article, we spoke to Amanda Lewis to find out why she joined NELFT and what she would like to do to improve the Trust.
Why did you want to become a Non-Executive Director?
I felt that, over the last 30 years, I had acquired certain skills and experience and, when my son left home to go to university, I wanted to put them to good use. The NHS was particularly attractive because it is so close to my heart.
How have you found your time as a NELFT NED so far?
Since joining in November 2016, I have been extremely impressed by the people working for NELFT, their dedication and commitment.
Everyone at NELFT has worked hard to improve our CQC rating from ‘Requires Improvement’ to ‘Good’ and I am pleased with the end result. Now we need to endeavour to improve our rating to ‘Outstanding’!
The NHS is facing some serious challenges at the moment, but I believe that, with the people at NELFT, we will be able to stand up to these challenges.
How have your skills and experience benefitted the Trust?
I have many years of experience advising organisations in over 20 different industry sectors on technology implementation, transformation and collaboration projects, first as a partner and then as a consultant in major global law firms. I have written four books on best practice and innovation in these areas, which have been published by Thomson Reuters.
Better use of technology is core to NELFT’s Corporate Strategy and core to its ability to improve operational efficiency and the patient experience. My experience of IT implementation projects teaches me that ultimately all IT projects are about the users – selecting technology that users need and want to employ, gaining the trust of users, implementing technology in ways that users prefer and providing effective training and ongoing support to users so that they can get the best out of the technology. The North East London STP (of which NELFT is a part) is leading London in implementing EPRs. NELFT’s own agile working project is being successful because of a recognition of these factors, although we must not be complacent and need to continually work to support users, to listen to users and to improve the service provided to them.
As the NHS takes a more collaborative and less competitive approach, transformation and collaboration are also relevant to NELFT. There are a number of factors and risks that organisations need to take into account when they enter into collaborations, not all of which are obvious.
My long training as a lawyer helps me adopt a structured, analytical approach to whatever information and documentation I am given and to make a constructive challenge if I feel that assumptions are being made that have not been properly validated or that need further due diligence.
My experience as a risk specialist assists me to see the inherent risks and possible consequences of particular courses of action. This is particularly useful when I am attending the Audit Committee. I have also used my experience to suggest improvements to NELFT’s strategic risk register (the Business Assurance Framework).
Lastly, I have a particular interest in estates, because of my experience over the years in supporting my husband in the family property business.
If there was one improvement that you would like to make in the Trust’s performance – what would that be?
The recent CQC report highlighted that the Trust is working to reduce bullying and harassment and I would like to see a reduction in all cases. NELFT must have a zero tolerance of bullying at all levels.
Finally, when you are away from your work roles – what do you like to do?
I am a trustee of a Human Rights charity. I love spending time with my husband, son and daughter and I also love cooking, travelling and photography. I have just come back from Ethiopia, visiting and supporting two charities, including a charity for battered women.
Thanks to Amanda for her time and keep an eye out next month for another NED interview.