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Life in our Integrated Care team

Henry Ireland

As part of our day in a life series exploring the different team roles here at ICHP, Innovation Delivery Advisor, Henry Ireland, shares his day as a member of the Integrated Care team with us.

I first open my eyes…
My day begins by snoozing an ambitious alarm in attempt to wake up early for a run. I still haven’t been in 7 years, but I tell myself I will tomorrow and full of optimism begin my morning routine – shower and get out of the house as soon as possible. I’ve never been a breakfast person (unless it’s a full English on the weekend) and I usually hastily iron a shirt – which often looks more creased than when I started.

I take the tube to work and try to read as much as I can before an onslaught of Londoners fills the carriage. My book often jostles for space against a novelty backpack and my face often ends up uncomfortably close to an armpit – it is usually this point I quickly retire my book. I eventually squeeze out of the sweaty prison and escape at Euston station.

I’m responsible for…
Walking through the entrance of 3o Euston Square always feels good A) it’s a beautiful building. B) I genuinely look forward to each day where I know I’ll learn something new. C) It’s air conditioned in the summer.

I work in the Integrated Care team at ICHP. Simply put, we help people and different organisations in the NHS work closer together. This seemed fundamental to me before joining ICHP, but it’s a real problem. When your average patient has multiple diagnoses, complex needs and a busy life, it’s increasingly difficult to address their many needs in isolation – and potentially dangerous if things were to fall through the gaps.

Imagine a system where hospitals, GPs, local authorities, voluntary organisations and many more work even closer together. Decisions can be signed-off quickly, services are co-designed by all partners, budgets are shared and all over the sector multi-disciplinary teams work together to deliver care wrapped around a person. It’s happening already, and it’s my job to help things along a bit, in places like Harrow, Hampshire and sometimes at a national level.

My path took me…
I worked as an Editor before ICHP, managing content over lots of academic journals, full to the brim of exciting sounding stuff that was going to make us all live longer and happier. The problem was that these ideas take a long time to, or often never make it to the NHS – in other words they never make a poorly person better.

ICHP are a bridge, an enabler, a conscientious friend that work tirelessly to ensure that rigorously tested and economically viable innovations and ideas make it into the NHS. I wanted to be part of that and to share these values.

My daily calendars reminders look like…
There’s no ‘normal’ day at ICHP and definitely not in the Integrated Care Team – where we’re working to unify lots of different organisations, across a broad range of health topics and professions.

My days can range from helping to design a new way of measuring health outcomes to better serve a population to working closely with our business intelligence team to analyse data to identify groups of patients that we can do more for, and ensure services are in place to help them. Today I’m supporting my incredible colleagues in an organisational design workshop for system leaders. In a similar program, these colleagues helped an entire London borough sign an agreement to lead to better care for their residents.

Everyday I get to meet amazing, driven, energetic people in the NHS that have nothing but compassion for the people they treat or care for. Here at ICHP we aim to give these people a voice, headspace and the necessary tools and support – so that when we bring these people together into one room, from different organisations, we start to make a difference.

My most memorable work moment…
I have only been at ICHP for a year. In the best way possible, it feels like much longer – Perhaps due to the amazing variability, the countless different things we pack into one day, and the colleagues that I would now count as friends first. To pick a single moment is hard and I tend to reflect instead on the journey as a whole.

When I arrived a year ago, I was met with a fledgling integrated care system where relationships were still being built. I would often leave meetings in these early days with more questions than answers.

A year on, I have seen these relationships and meetings grow as we explore what best they can achieve for their population with what they have. There is now a governance system that can decisively allow improvements to be made and innovations adopted. They are designing a whole new system of care and have pioneered new ways of measuring it. More importantly, they have touched the lives of real people that were previously struggling.

My biggest groan about my job is…
Changing the well-established is hard. We’re navigating a system that has barriers at every turn, with well-meaning policies often preventing exactly the thing they are trying to do, it can be frustrating. It often means that no matter how hard you try, these things take a long time, often have no distinct end, and have a risk of failing. Failure means that we aren’t helping people we could, and with limited time, we often can’t help everyone as it is.

My best part of my job…
So what makes me walk through the door each day? It isn’t the inspiring, resourceful intelligent colleagues I work shoulder to shoulder with. It isn’t the fact that we are given autonomy and accountability to tackle a problem in the health care system as we see fit. It isn’t that I get to wear a t-shirt to work sometimes…  it’s the knowledge that if our work positively influences just one life of a patient, a family member or a friend then everything we do is worth it!