Interview with Mayuri Parmar, Head of Admin – Forensics
PEOPLE typically think the NHS is all about doctors and nurses, but there are many other roles and skills which keep the show on the road and ensure that patients, service users and their families are cared for professionally, respectfully and with kindness.
In this issue of Trusttalk, we are focusing on the role of Administrators in the NHS. Often regarded as the oil in the machine, very little would happen in the Trust without the behind-the-scenes work and frontline work of Admin staff. Admin staff are often the very first contact that the public have with the NHS. They are the ones that put people at their ease and are the sorter-outers! They set the tone for the patient’s journey.
How did you end up in this field in the NHS?
I have five amazing children of whom I am very proud. It was important to me spend time with them before they started nursery/ school. I therefore opted for admin agency and bank work in the NHS from 1990 onwards and was lucky to be placed by my agency at a number of different NHS Trusts and sites. I didn’t know at the time, that this career move would one day lead me to being Head of Administration in Forensic Services.
What other jobs did you do along the way?
I worked at the University of East London creating databases from scratch for an ACL research project that I am named in! This led on to private work creating databases and training staff. I also did a stint in shoe shops, management in nurseries and cancer services. Whatever it took to pay the bill …
Who are your heroes?
Day Njovana (Now Director of Tower Hamlets Directorate) I was shattered and feeling burnt out during the first wave of COVID-19 last year. He sat me down and explained that I need to approach the pandemic as a long term event and that there was no fast fix - so to slow down and think about self-care. He praised me, showed gratitude and concern for my wellbeing. I have learnt much from him about compassionate leadership during the time in my current role.
However, I must also include the film persona I also admire! Captain Picard from Star Trek who was a fighter and never gave up. I am a Trekie and love attending Star Trek conventions at which I met Jean Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) a few years ago. Although fiction, I learnt from Picard that life can throw some crazy challenges, there is always a way out by some lateral thinking.
What is your bug bear about the perception of admin?
Not being involved in decision-making with senior managers. People often underestimate the role of admin and we can initially be left out of project and planning meetings. But all processes and service provision are underpinned by strong admin support. We are practical, knowledgeable, problem-solvers and are a key link with other specialities. If you want something done quickly and smoothly … make sure there’s an administrator in the room!!!!
A personal highlight?
Being able to teach new skills to our service users.
Any turning points?
Passing my degree as a mature student and then completing a teaching degree a few years later – the boost to my confidence pushed me forward in speaking up as I used to be shy and rarely speak up at meetings.
Why do you think a career in administration is the way to go?
A career in administration is not only about typing. I know of a current CEO of a Trust who worked in Admin years ago and ward administrators who are in senior roles now. Admin are jack of all trades! Multi-skilled! Not much happens without us!
2020 has the most challenging year I have experienced in my career. But a year of flexibility and new ways of working. I have also learnt to rely on my colleagues more.
What task do admins do that no one knows they do?
They listen and support service users in crisis that turn up at reception.
What would you say to your 16 year old self?
Don’t worry so much about the small stuff. Most of all, don’t be afraid to break the rules and travel to the unlikeliest of places and make memories.
What would you say to people thinking about a career in administration in the NHS?
Don’t view Admin as a stop gap but go to college, do the admin training – there is so much variety in the NHS and a team or department is waiting for you to join them. I was lucky enough to move around in the NHS and identify where I wanted to work and it was ELFT - I feel lucky to have had the chance to join our Trust.
What would you like to say to non-admin staff about the role?
Admin is the backbone of the NHS and also the second largest group of staff after nursing. We need to be valued!
Why do you love it/what has kept you in ELFT/NHS/public sector all this time?
I’ve been able to become a QI Improvement Coach – the best place to be is in ELFT for this!
If you are interested in a career in health and social care administration, check out www.nhs.jobs.co.uk/ELFT