Clare Collyer, who works at Monitor, the NHS regulatory body for England, believes physiotherapists have the skills to get to the top
How long have you been at Monitor?
I joined Monitor last November last year as a clinical healthcare adviser in the cooperation and competition directorate (CCD).
I work closely with two other clinicians, another physiotherapist and CCD’s clinical director who has a nursing background. Both have a wealth of experience within the health sector including clinical, managerial and strategic roles so I feel very well supported in my new role.
Tell us about a typical working day
I tend to start by checking my emails and planning my work for the day. The majority of my day is then spent on specific cases or project work.
The CCD’s role is to ensure that choice and competition in the health sector works in the best interest of patients and we act to prevent anti-competitive behaviour by commissioners or providers where it is against patients’ interests.
Our casework involves advising on proposed hospital mergers, patient choice and the procurement, patient choice and competition regulations. We also investigate potential breaches of these regulations by commissioners and support providers to meet aspects of their provider licence related to integration.
Each case is worked on by a case team consisting of a clinical healthcare adviser, legal adviser, economic adviser and an inquiries lead. My role is to provide clinical insight into the case, working closely with a clinical reference group, and to lead on clinical or service level aspects.
How does your role fit into Monitor’s wider remit?
Monitor is the sector regulator for health services in England so has the broad remit of protecting and promoting the interests of patients. We work closely with the Care Quality Commission, who regulate the quality and safety of care offered by providers.
In addition to the work carried out by CCD, Monitor also ensures foundation hospitals, ambulance trusts and mental health and community care organisation are well led and are run efficiently. We make sure the NHS payment system rewards quality and efficiency to help drive improvements in patient care and, should a provider get into difficulty, ensure their essential services continue to be provided.
You were previously a CSP professional adviser, did that help you get the post?
My work as a professional adviser was invaluable in terms of progressing my career. It gave me experience of working with national committees and organisations, provided me with a more strategic knowledge of the health sector and, importantly, an understanding of the challenges facing patients, clinicians, managers and commissioners.
That said, the skills I learnt through studying and practising clinical physiotherapy are, to my mind, the most important and sadly these skills are often underestimated in the profession.
Allied health professionals develop exceptional problem-solving skills.
We quickly assess a situation to determine the key issues and develop a plan for how to solve the problems being faced. In my experience, these reasoning and problem-solving skills aren’t as common as we may imagine and are highly valued by employers from all sectors.
I also think the ‘people skills’ we develop, our ability to communicate clearly and read people and situations, are invaluable.
What advice would you give others seeking a national role?
A move away from a purely clinical role can be difficult, not least because of a sense that our abilities lie with doing the hands on clinical work, rather than more strategic or managerial roles.
Don’t underestimate the value of the skills you have and don’t a job description put you off. There can be a tendency to feel a need to match all of the competencies and duties listed on a job description before applying for a new role rather than considering what we could bring to the role or how well we could develop into it.
Do you still practise professionally?
I no longer practise clinical physiotherapy, but I do still consider myself to be a physiotherapist. My role draws on my physio skills and knowledge and I firmly believe the work I do has a positive impact on people’s health and wellbeing.
In that respect it clearly falls within the scope of physiotherapy. I doubt a doctor taking on a management or leadership role would question whether or not the new position fits within their remit as a medic and I think it’s important for physiotherapists to embrace the same mindset.
Is keeping fit and being ‘green’ important to you?
Yes, although, like many people, I sometimes find it hard to live by these principles. I’ve found the most realistic way for me to be active on a regular basis is to walk to work and back.
It takes a bit longer but, weather permitting, is so much more enjoyable than a cramped tube carriage. fl
Clare Collyer is a clinical healthcare adviser at Monitor in London
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