Our Quality and Improvement team is at the core of our dedication to continuous improvement and our commitment to providing high-quality care to our patients. Heading up the auditing teams across our services there are five Quality & Improvement Leads — two for Hertfordshire & West Essex, two for Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, and one for Luton & Bedfordshire. Sarah Thomas leads the Luton & Bedfordshire auditing team and also bagged the runner-up trophy for the ‘Unsung Hero’ category of our HUC Heroes Staff Awards earlier this year. She tells us about her role and what it feels like to celebrate 5 years in our organisation.

Our Luton & Bedfordshire IUC service went live in March 2017 – and Sarah started her career at HUC as part of the first group of Health Advisors. Now, she leads a team of 11 Auditors.

Of the many things she likes at HUC and what’s kept her going, she says, “The career progression and opportunities at HUC are great. Having progressed quickly within the service myself, I can vouch for that.”

And she has truly grasped the opportunities to grow with both hands. “I was trained in Hertfordshire and worked as a Health Advisor for a year before I took up the auditing role. I then went on to become a Coach and became a Team Leader following which I started as a Shift Manager,” she says.

And to this day, Sarah likes to wear multiple hats at HUC. “My main, full-time role is as Quality and Improvement Lead, but I do shift managing too– as I like to have that hands-on experience. For the last year I’ve also been working as an NHS Pathways Trainer,” she says, having completed the training last July.

She enjoys the possibility of flexible working hours and a hybrid working style. “HUC is a very supportive organisation. And, when I look back at the 5 years, I feel grateful for all the opportunities I’ve been given to be able to get to where I am now. Everybody is lovely to work with. It’s a great work environment,” she says.

Her team of auditors screen recordings to ensure efficiency and identify training gaps, and other areas of improvement to better the quality of our services.

As part of her responsibilities, Sarah deals with patient feedback, flagged calls, and Datix, an electronic incident reporting system, soon to be replaced completely by our new Radar software. Her job means she works with many teams and different internal and external colleagues:  from our Patient Experience and the Service Delivery teams to our commissioners.

“If Health Advisors fail a call or two calls consecutively, I work alongside the Service Delivery team to make sure we have an action plan ready to support them,” she says. “I also deal with incidents and develop workshops for our Health Advisors based on themes we’ve identified where we can do better to help us avoid those incidents from recurring,” she adds.

Sarah is always there for her team and colleagues in general, which was evident in her nomination for the awards too. “I like to work with people and like them to know who I am, rather than them just receiving emails from a name – so I do work with individuals and assure them that they can come to me for support.”

“I’m also very committed to offering colleagues opportunities to grow like the ones I’ve benefitted from: I have helped Health Advisors progress to the role of a Coach and with my support, some have become Auditors. So, it’s all very fulfilling. I like to see colleagues flourish, I get the reward from helping others and that’s what I love doing.”

Would you recommend working at HUC to others? “Yes, very much. There is so much scope for training and development. Everyone is approachable and supportive. It’s not about what title you have – everyone learns from one another and it’s a great environment to work in.”

Recalling her most memorable moments at HUC, she exclaims, “It’s got to be the Staff Awards! Back in 2019, I won the ‘Motivator of the Year’, and this year I was Runner-up in the ‘Unsung Hero’ category.”

“These are proud moments and it’s fantastic to be recognised for your work. I was quite chuffed,” she signs off.