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The NHS75 – committing to the work to come: Andrew Morgans 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 Andrew Morgans, Business Change Facilitator.

I always find running to be conducive to thinking, and while running the parkrun for the NHS’s 75th anniversary around the beautiful Cosmeston Lakes, near Penarth, the NHS was on my mind. There were so many runners wearing blue for the NHS, including a colleague, Dr Victoria Wheatley, in full scrubs. When the NHS was mentioned at the pre-run briefing, there was great applause and whoops. As I ran, my mind went back to all the celebrations that marked this important milestone for our institution.

The NHS’s 75th birthday coincided with the graduation for the Change Ambassador Programme (CAP). I graduated from the programme – it is a fantastically put-together, accredited course that explores change theory and methods, placing them in an NHS context. I recommend this course to all NHS colleagues – here you can find more information about CAP.

The day before, the multi-faith service of thanksgiving was held at Ely’s Resurrection Church and live-streamed online. The service provided an opportunity to pause and reflect on the NHS – its origins, its staff, and its future. One specific element really struck me. Representatives from many of the world’s faiths used the phrase: “We commit ourselves to the work to come.” There is much work to come, but first it I feel it useful to look back.

The principle of free healthcare at point-of-access is, arguably, Wales’s greatest export. Aneurin Bevan, then the Minister of Health, conceived of the ambitious idea of creating a National Health Service. The centrepiece of the post-war settlement and creation of the welfare state, Bevan took inspiration from his hometown of Tredegar. This mining community had pooled resources in the spirit of mutual aid, creating an accessible and free healthcare to benefit the whole community. Nye Bevan had said he wanted to “Tredegar-ise”[sic] the UK, and in July 1948, he achieved that.

The NHS has always been part of my life. I was born in an NHS hospital. The NHS saved my life when, at 18 months old, I suffered a convulsion and was hospitalised. When my son was born, the emergency care, compassion and professionalism provided to ensure both my wife and son were safe was awe inspiring. When one of my parents was seriously ill and stayed in an intensive care unit for 12 weeks, the expertise and compassion I witnessed there, in such a demanding situation, was nothing short of exceptional. I have such deep gratitude for this institution and its staff.

Now I work for the NHS at Digital Health and Care Wales (DHCW) and have done so for a little over a year. You could say I am “committing myself to the work to come.” In fact, my role as a Business Change Facilitator within the Business Change Team is about the work to come – I support NHS staff in adoption of clinical systems. Specifically, I work within the Cancer Informatics Solution (CIS) project to replace the Cancer Network Information System Cymru (Canisc).

In November last year, I had the privilege to support the staff at Velindre Cancer Centre as they made the brave step away from Canisc and started using the new CIS functionality of Welsh Clinical Portal (WCP). There, I walked the hospital wards and offices and assisted staff in using these new features. I was helping the people who help people. I gained a lot from this and was genuinely humbled.

When considering the NHS’s future, it is apparent that digital technology is going play a significant role.

Digital technology wasn’t prevalent in 1948, but today it is integrated into everyday work. DHCW has a vital role in supporting digital within the NHS in Wales. In 25 years, the NHS will be 100 years old. What will it look like then? To what extent will digital technology impact healthcare in Wales? And importantly – did we succeed in committing ourselves the work that was to come? Time will tell.