Strategic Supply Advisor George successfully applied for the DHSC Health Policy Fast Track Scheme (HPFTS). This is his story…
What type of work are you involved in?
In my current role I have the opportunity to work with policy teams, other Government Departments, industry, international partners and other key stakeholders across the medical sector to improve future supply chain resilience. I am leading on our team’s engagement with industry (pharmaceutical, medical devices, vaccines etc) and international trade recommendations following a cross-government report.
Similarly on international trade this involves working across government to develop and implement mitigation actions to improve the flow of medical goods into the UK. The role also includes ministerial and senior civil servant briefing, both verbally and written.
Do you feel your role has made a difference?
In my previous role there were numerous times that I was involved in making a difference. During the COVID-19 response our team worked at pace to secure and announce over £4 billion of additional funding for local authorities and the adult social care sector through various funding streams. This was funding that the adult social care sector responded positively to and made it clear that it was helping their ability to react under incredibly difficult circumstances.
What experience has been the highlight of the HPFTS so far?
Over my first year I have been able to write speeches and briefing packs for Ministers for upcoming debates, as well as verbally briefing them prior to the debates. This has meant that I have been able to attend the debates and be in the Official’s Box in the House of Commons and House of Lords Chambers, as well as assisting ministers in two Westminster Hall debates. Attending Parliamentary debates in the box has further proven to me that what we do working in health and social care day to day is of great interest and importance across the country. Being in Parliament is also a really unique and enjoyable working experience that you don’t forget!
What is it like working for the Department of Health and Social Care?
Working at DHSC is great! Health and Social Care policies impact the lives of everybody, so I find it a great privilege to be part of the teams trying to improve them. I would recommend that anybody who wants to join the Civil Service looks at DHSC. The opportunities in the Department are broad and each policy area is so different and fast moving, meaning work is always exciting.
How has the HPFTS helped you develop your skills and experience?
Being on the HPFTS means you are embedded in fast-paced policy areas, alongside being allocated targeted training and development opportunities. I have been able to work alongside experienced civil servants who have taken my development goals seriously, and then on set days gone to arranged training programmes with our cohort to develop skills like leadership, negotiating, and project management that you can take back to your day job. This combination means I have been able to gather skills and apply it to the placement I am in to improve the wider experience I have in the team.
What have been the best three things about being on the HPFTS?
Firstly, definitely being in a cohort with the other Fast Trackers. Joining the Scheme alongside a supportive cohort makes every challenge an opportunity to share with people in similar situations which helps massively, especially as the MSc approaches!
Secondly, in the Department the profile of the HPFTS is noticeable. People across DHSC know that the scheme is internal and that it shows a commitment to both the Department and Health and Social Care from those on it, and in return I have experienced positive development opportunities as senior colleagues involve themselves by offering support and advice throughout my placements. Fast Trackers are in every part of DHSC (I am now in the Commercial directorate!) and the bids for our placements always offer exciting roles.
Thirdly, the tailored support. As the cohorts are internal and not huge, we get tailored support from the HPFTS central team. This involves frequently being contacted with events and training that might be interesting to us, 1-2-1s with Cohort Leaders, development talks with our Line Managers and HPFTS team, and just the knowledge that there is a central team who know all about your role and what you are working on day to day if you need any assistance.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of applying to the HPFTS?
Definitely go for it! The Scheme gives you great roles, with fun experiences such as working face to face with Ministers and working on exciting Government priority policies, all whilst caring about your personal development. Health and social care impact all of us and everybody has a different reason to want to work in the Department, and in my experience all backgrounds and experiences are valued, so don’t worry if you aren’t the most experienced already, as the Scheme gives you a great opportunity to build experience in various policy areas in a short time.