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NHS75 - Laurence James shares his story

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the NHS, we will be sharing stories from a range of employees and professions across Digital Health and Care Wales (DHCW).  Today, we hear from Laurence James Programme Lead responsible for leading the management of the Digital Medicines Transformation Portfolio (DMTP) 


Tell us a little about your job role 

The DMTP is hugely exciting and will digitally transform services to improve care and healthcare experience with the aim of making the prescribing, dispensing and administration of medicines in Wales easier, safer and more efficient for patients and healthcare professionals through digital technologies. The DMTP is bringing four areas together. 

Typically, my role as Programme Lead involves planning and managing the development and delivering of DMTP Programmes and Projects ensuring that they deliver on time, to the expected quality and within budget. This involves working together with Welsh Government, health boards and trusts and a multitude of teams and professions across DHCW ranging from: 

  • software development and testing 
  • information standards 
  • technical architects 
  • service management 
  • data validation 
  • Communications 
  • clinical professionals. 


What do you enjoy about your job role? 

I absolutely love my job! 

This role has provided the opportunity to work across multiple health care environments from delivering new digital solutions in hospitals, GP practices and community pharmacies.  

Working across these environments has provided me with new learning and equipped me with new skills and knowledge, something which I relish and is important to me. I’ve been able to work with some very talented and inspiring people, all of whom have the patient interest at heart. 

I have also seen the impact that digital transformation has had on the quality of services provided and the quality of care received by close family members.  

As an example, my father receives care across several hospitals in south Wales, spanning across health board organisational boundaries, taking many medications. After an appointment one day, he called me and said the clinicians knew everything about his care history - which is what we are trying to achieve: granting access to a consolidated patient record, at the point of care, to allow our health care colleagues to provide the best possible care for patients and our family members. 


How did you join your profession 

I joined the NHS, Cwm Taf teaching Health Board, in 2007 as a project officer after graduating from university. This role introduced me to the ‘health informatics’ profession, and I’ve never looked back.  

I supported the Individual Health Record (IHR) project working with Informing Healthcare to deliver the ability to view the GP summary record in the GP Out of Hours service. It wasn’t long after, that a secondment/fixed term opportunity became available as a project officer for the Welsh Clinical Portal (WCP) programme which is where my DHCW journey began albeit with its former organisations. 

I joined the WCP team when it was just a vision/concept on paper and I was part of the project team that supported its very first pilot on Padarn Ward, Glangwili Hospital. Seeing where WCP was then and where it is today leaves me with a feeling of immense pride. Often, given the fast-paced nature of our work, we don’t always have the time to reflect but we have made huge strides since I first joined the WCP team in 2009. 

During my career, I also had the opportunity to complete a MSc Degree in Health and Public Sector Management in 2013 where my dissertation title was “The General Publics Perceptions of Electronic Health Records”. This assessed both patients and health care providers views which I found fascinating and sparked a real interest in me.  

Today, I still use the findings from this research to inform programmes and projects I lead on. 


How long have you been part of the NHS? 

Since 2007. In that time, I have gained invaluable experience working for Cwm Taf teaching Health Board, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, Velindre Cancer Centre and Informing Healthcare/NHS Wales Informatics Service/ Digital Health and Care Wales. Working in a hospital environment has allowed me to bring that knowledge back to DHCW. 

During this time, I have delivered large scale digital transformation within NHS Wales both at a national and local level across primary, secondary and tertiary care environments.  

I’ve programme managed the Single Digital Patient Record, the Welsh Nursing Care Record (WNCR), the Choose Pharmacy Discharge Medicines Review Project and the second phase of General Practitioner electronic referrals. 

Some of the key achievements I am most proud of include working as part of a team which has allowed health care providers to: 

  1. view patient diagnostic results and patient care documents across organisational boundaries in the WCP at the point of care 
  1. make cancer genetics test results available for viewing in the WCP to support safer prescribing  
  1. enable a redacted version of the hospital Discharge Advice Letter (DAL) to be made available in the Choose Pharmacy Application to support discharge medicines reviews in community pharmacies following a patients stay in hospital  
  1. support the Welsh Nursing Care Record (WNCR) application going live for adult inpatient assessments and its subsequent roll out. 


What does the NHS mean to you? 

I have worked in the NHS for 15 years and I feel it is a real privilege to work for a world-renowned organisation (may I add started by a Welshman) which makes a real difference to people’s lives.  

It gives me a tremendous amount of self-worth knowing that the digital transformations we are delivering can make an enormous impact on the quality-of-care patients receive. 

The values of the NHS are very close to that of my own. As well as caring for my family members, it has provided me with learning and development opportunities to equip me with the necessary skills to progress my NHS career. 

The NHS is an institution, one which I am proud to say I am a part of