Using finance in supporting the front-line #DoingOurBit (Emma Emery)

Emma Emery was just one month into her new role of Deputy Director of Commissioning Finance at NHS England and NHS Improvement (South East) before being redeployed into new roles in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Taking up a Deputy Director role for the South East’s use of the Nightingale Hospital at Excel in London meant that Emma was working long days supporting the setup of a contingency plan for the South East, utilising her good organisational and leadership skills that being accountant gives you. Emma says, “I really wanted to use this time to make a significant difference and help front-line staff”. Emma worked alongside colleagues from London trusts, two ambulance service trusts, the Military, and many other organisations to deliver this programme of work

Some of her daily activities included making sure that robust plans were in place to: move very sick and recovering patients between sites safely, secure supplies of medicine, oxygen masks and PPE, ensure mortuary and repatriation plans were in place, handle workforce issues such as finding enough staff to physically work in the sites whilst ensuring their safety was protected – the list goes on!

When the Nightingale sites were mothballed in May, Emma was asked to change roles and help lead antibody testing for the South East. This initially focused on NHS staff and primary care where she worked with systems to ensure phlebotomy and laboratory processing was in place. Emma says, “this was much more complicated than I expected and was really hard work. I had no idea how complex this would be, and I learnt a lot about pathology and biomedicine. I have a newfound respect for our colleagues in this sector working tirelessly in the background to set this up so quickly.” Emma is still working on this project currently. Her team are now focusing on testing the wider NHS cohort and social care colleagues using the data for research purposes going forward.

Emma says she has thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of her redeployment, “there’s a whole world outside finance and I feel like I’ve been right in the thick of it; supporting our front-line staff which has been incredibly rewarding. When the pandemic hit, I felt my contribution just in finance wasn’t enough, which is why I volunteered for these roles”. 

Her voluntary roles have connected her with clinicians and other staff that her usual finance role wouldn’t have given her that opportunity to do so, and that these connections will be incredibly valuable for her when she returns to finance. “I will work with my new colleagues and friends made as an opportunity to improve value within finance going forward.”