“I went into NHS management because I wanted to manage people, and I enjoy building and developing teams,” says Jayne Thomas, MiP’s National Committee member for the North West. “I’d worked in some quite dysfunctional teams but also some high-performing ones, and I wanted to replicate that.”
Jayne recently returned to the trust, Blackpool Teaching Hospitals, where she began her NHS career 20 years ago. “My first full-time NHS job was working in workforce planning, and I just loved it,” she recalls. “I worked with two really good managers, but then with managers whose way of doing things I didn’t really like. And I thought, I can do this job better than you. That’s what made me start to develop and become a better manager.”
Blackpool is a large trust serving one of the most deprived areas in the country, while also providing A&E services to the town’s 12.5 million visitors every year. The trust also hosts the National Artificial Eye Service: if you need a new eye, it will probably be made in Blackpool.
Jayne now works as business and delivery manager for the trust’s executive medical director, deputy director and seven associate medical directors – “they tell me what they want to happen and I make it happen,” she says – providing support and expertise on programme and project management, governance and workforce development. She also leads on reporting and governance for the trust’s Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) programme, which benchmarks performance against other trusts to identify where improvements and efficiencies can be made.
Before returning to Blackpool, Jayne’s management career included spells as an operational manager at Liverpool’s Aintree Hospital and the healthcare department of Styal women’s prison in Cheshire, where she managed around 100 staff providing round-the-clock primary care services to the prison’s 450 inmates.
“In general, we were focused on rehabilitation, so we had a lot of mental health and substance misuse issues,” she explains. “I set up visiting services for things like physios, midwifery and sexual health because it was less disruptive for the women and less of a security risk to have clinicians coming in. It was an uncomfortable environment at times, but I never felt unsafe. I felt you could really make a difference for the women.”
Jayne got involved in MiP after contacting MiP national officer Corrado Valle for help when Styal’s healthcare staff were being transferred to Spectrum Health after the NHS lost the contract.
“I’m really glad I did,” she says, “because Corrado came to the one-to-one meetings with me and was really firm about the transfer being made under the TUPE regulations. He made sure my terms and conditions were protected. He was very good.”
Support from an MiP link member at East Cheshire Trust inspired Jayne to become a rep herself. “He was really supportive and understood my issues as a manager,” she says. “He hadn’t become a union rep until he was in his 40s, so I thought, if he can do it, so can I. I signed up for the reps training and here I am nine years later.”
With one exception, employers have been positive about Jayne’s MiP activity and she feels it has benefitted her career. “Part of the reason I got my current job was that the manager who interviewed me was impressed by my union background and the work I was doing on employee relations,” she explains.
“I think some managers expected the militant experience, a bit of banging on the table, but they didn’t get it,” she continues. “I was someone they knew from around the organisation so they were prepared to listen. It has given me a bit of gravitas, shall we say.”
Since joining the National Committee in 2022, Jayne and Corrado have held monthly online sessions for MiP members and reps in the North West and are planning in-person events in the future. “Our members can drop in for a chat or to discuss any issues they’re worried about,” Jayne explains. “We can provide some support and it also helps us find out what’s going on in different areas, especially with the changing ICS landscape.”
As a committee member, Jayne is also keen to raise MiP’s profile and recruit new members. “I think we’ve got a unique selling point as a union for managers, but people don’t know enough about us,” she says. “I don’t want people to say, ‘What’s MiP?’ I want people to know who MiP are.”
- If you’re interested in becoming an MiP link member or rep, contact MiP organiser, Rebecca Hall: email@example.com.