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NHS75 - Alex Paes shares his story

To celebrate the 75 anniversary of the NHS, we will be sharing stories from a range of employees and professions across Digital Health and Care Wales. Today we hear from Alex Paes, a Principal Software Developer.


Tell us a little about your job role

I am the Principal Software Developer for the Welsh Clinical Portal (WCP) team at Digital Health and Care Wales.

The WCP allows health professionals, across Wales the ability to access patients’ digital records. As a Principal Software Developer, I maintain the functionality and electronic forms of the portal.

It is also my responsibility to manage the team of fantastic and hard-working developers who are part of the team and bring the best out of them while guiding them in the right direction.


What do you enjoy about your job role?

There are many things I enjoy about my role. First and foremost, the team of people I get to work with. To be a developer not only means being able to work alone but also as part of a team, therefore, it is important that you can work with others, not just developers but anyone responsible for any input to the project whether they are a project manager, tester or support analyst.

Everyone I work with is knowledgeable, approachable and friendly each with their own individual story to tell.

Having a good chemistry in a team allows work to be developed quickly and efficiently and allows you to relax in the sense that there’s always someone to talk to about anything and you know that they will listen. I was once asked “what gives you that energy to get up and go into work every morning?” and I replied “My team makes me want to come into work” - in a world full of judgement and differing opinions, it really is a relief to be able to comfortably be yourself.

Another thing I enjoy about my role is when we release a finished product to a health board. I won’t lie and say developing or maintaining an application is always easy. There are many pitfalls and unexpected challenges that may happen right from the very start all the way to the very end, all of which can lead to some stressful moments.

Once the work is finally completed and getting that official sign off and acceptance from the health board is a huge relief. Being part of the planning, subsequent development and then finally assisting the support team to deploy the application is months of hard work.

Seeing what you’ve been working on being used by those that appreciate it and knowing that they will use the product you have developed to help them treat patients brings a great sense of pride and accomplishment to this role.


How did you join your profession?

Thanks to my love of video games and sci-fi films, I found myself interested and enjoying everything IT based both in and out of school. Naturally this led me to choose Computing as one of my subjects at A-level.

Throughout my years in Sixth Form, I was finding myself struggling in my other A-Levels but not Computing. Computing, more specifically the coding side of things, just felt natural to me. I understood it, I enjoyed it and while I didn’t achieve great results at the end of my time at school, my Computing grade was enough for me to pursue an HND in Computing at University of South Wales.

It was both a scary and exciting time for me – low in confidence after school and the prospect of moving from London to Cardiff knowing no one. This was the start of a new chapter of my life.

Having to only focus on modules I was interested in paid off and I never struggled in university and in my final year I was looking for the prospect of a job. The university careers fair was a natural place to start. Enter Digital Health and Care Wales (NHS Wales Informatics Service as it was known then).  I took particular note of  how friendly and professional the recruiting staff were.

They came across as having the message of “we want you” rather than “here’s who we are, apply if you want” that came across from other companies. I spoke to the staff who informed me about the Graduate scheme they run every late-spring/early summer and I applied for it.

At the time of the scheme, I had other interviews lined up and even some job offers but I still wanted to take part and I’m glad that I did. Within a week of the scheme, I had a phone call informing me of my success and whether I wanted to accept or not. Of course, I said yes and immediately started looking for a new flat in Cardiff to move into.

Why did I choose to work here? It was the professionalism and friendliness of all the staff as well as the detailed overview of the many products that I could be working on.

It was a real showcase to the values of the NHS and it painted an exciting future that I wanted to be a part of. Here I am 7 years later, and it says a lot that many of the staff who interviewed me on the day are still part of the organisation and I now work beside them as colleagues, and as friends.


How long have you been part of the NHS?

7 years.


What does the NHS mean to you?

Dedication is the first word (of many) which comes to mind. You think of the NHS, one of the first thoughts that come to mind is that “it is for the people”.

In order to deliver that service, you need to look at the staff and the countless, often thankless, hours they work to help others. Whether you are a nurse, consultant, cleaner, porter, business analyst, software developer – everyone who works for the NHS is dedicated to its patients.

It’s not just the patients though. If working for the NHS has shown me anything, it is that the NHS, as a whole, wants to get the best out of its staff whenever possible; from training courses, advice on a multitude of subjects and providing clear guidance and direction to every worker and their career path, the NHS is dedicated to taking care of their own people