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NHS75 - Amy Vaughan Thomas shares her 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 Amy Vaughan Thomas, a Senior Solutions Architect in Application Development and Support.

Tell us a little about your job role

A Solutions Architect designs hardware, software, or networking applications and services intended to solve identified problems within an organisation. We create the overall technical vision for a specific solution to a problem the organisation has. 

I’m not a traditional Solutions Architect, my background is business architecture rather than technical. I can easily describe not only the technology, but also the wider context that it needs to be used within (people, processes, locations, etc). 

I am currently assigned to the Digital Medicines Transformation Portfolio, leading on the Primary Care Electronic Prescription Service (EPS). This is a product from NHS England, which has been adapted for Wales – certainly not a traditional programme to start my NHS career with! I’ve also done some work on Secondary Care Electronic Prescribing, so getting a good experience of a broad spectrum of work.

Unlike the other Solution architects within DHCW, I also have the honour of facilitating the newly established DHCW Design Authority, supporting a body of design decision-makers in ensuring that solutions within the organisation are well considered, architecturally assured and ultimately fit for purpose. Its processes need to remain constantly transparent, auditable and its outputs simple to consume, which is quite an ask with some of the complex designs that are being established within the organisation all the time!

What do you enjoy about your job role?

I’m sure quite a few people can say this about their job, but no two days are the same. My days can include being sat quietly drawing diagrams using my ‘box of crayons’ (or software), moving from topic to topic, meeting to meeting, gathering information, discussing complex problems - some of which are urgent and immediate, some of which are aspirational future ambitions of the organisation. It’s really varied, and a great workout for my brain!

I need to constantly collaborate within a varied audience - clinicians, other designers, developers, programme management team, etc – so I always need to think about ways of describing the technical to a non-technical audience, and also in my case, consuming the extremely technical from those who are far more experienced than me.

My role with the Design Authority ensures I get to see a little bit of almost everything that is going on, which is fascinating – it’s really helping me in learning more about the organisation, its people, processes and challenges at pace. I’m a problem solver by nature, a fixer, and this role lets me do exactly that on a daily basis.

How did you join your profession?
It may sound a little far-fetched, but I joined a “family firm” as a temp in 2005 after graduating that somehow turned out to actually be part of the UK’s largest bank! Their office closure in 2009 led to me experiencing a role in change management for the first time, and, once I started, I was hooked. 

First as a project coordinator, then a Project Manager, and onwards into architecture. I’ve worked across projects and programmes of all sizes, across almost every product your bank can sell you (mortgages, loans, credit cards, motor finance), which has given me quite a broad experience which I’ve brought to DHCW.

How long have you been part of the NHS?
I joined DHCW in February 2022, after almost seventeen years working in banking, so its been quite a steep learning curve and I still have so much to learn.

What does the NHS mean to you?
The NHS means so much to me, I don’t know where I would be without it. My husband has a chronic illness, and we have two children together, so our interactions with the NHS have been numerous and varied, even before joining its workforce! My husband is also a retired nurse, and speaks with such passion about the NHS as a vocation.

The Covid pandemic brought into sharp focus quite how important the health service is to me and my family, and made me think about how much I wanted to directly support it. This role came up at the exact right moment to allow me to do just that. I feel so privileged to be assigned to pieces of work where the impact of a job well done will be felt across the nation when they go live.