Rachel Surtees – understanding your role during this time of crisis

Hi, I’m Rachel Surtees, I’m Director of Strategy and Transformation at the Tavistock and Portman. In my normal job I spend much of my time thinking about and planning for the future, but things don’t feel very normal for any of us right now and I don’t know if it’s the same for you but my concept of time has become pretty distorted so long-term planning right now, feels a bit more like thinking about what might be happening in three hours’ time rather than three months’ time.

But the long-term still matters. We will get through this pandemic and when we do our hospitals and organisations will all need to return to normality so that we can continue to care for our patients and vulnerable adults and children who depend on our services.

One of the really important principles of NCL In Mind is that everybody matters. Our doctors, nurses, receptionists, administrators, cleaners, porters, and everybody else whose roles means that they are really at the face of this thing are doing an incredible job and we are all very grateful. But there are also a huge number of other health and social care staff in more corporate facing roles and your jobs are also still important and your well-being matters and is being thought of too.

Computers still need to be fixed, staff still need to be paid, invoices still need to be raised and all these other hundreds of daily tasks that keep organisations running, still need to happen.

I know from talking to my own teams, who I manage, who are in corporate roles, that this feels like a really complicated and difficult time. They want to help, but just like everybody else fill a bit daunted about stepping into the unknown. They also want to try and keep their day jobs going because they know that is one of the ways to limit the long-term damage of this pandemic, but they are worried about bothering people who are busy dealing with today’s priorities.

There’s no easy answer, but if you’re in a corporate or support service role and have been asked and are able to do other things, that’s great. No-one expects you to be an expert overnight, so do your best, be clear about what is being asked of you and ask for help if you need it. And crucially, stay in regular contact with your core team. Staying connected is one of the very best things that you can be doing right now to look after your wellbeing.

And for those of you who are still plugging away at your day jobs, keep going and thank you. The way that we can help those who are really feeling the heat of this virus is to keep everything else running as smoothly as possible. You may need to adapt how you’re working, I’m sure you already have, but be available, be kind and stay in touch with colleagues.

You can use the NCL In Mind webpage to tell us what you struggling, or what you’d like to hear podcasts on, and we’ll do our best to get helpful content up and online as quickly as we can.

Rachel Surtees is the director of strategy at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust. Rachel speaks to the many health and social care staff who are in corporate or support service roles, who may be finding it difficult to understand their roles during this time of crisis.  

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