Once in a while you meet an exceptional leader who can truly inspire and acts as a role model to others. I am privileged to have met such a person, who’s energy, enthusiasm and sheer drive and determination has shattered the typical NHS barriers thrown in their way.
Meet Mrs Michelle Martin for she is an extraordinary leader hidden within the NHS corridors driving improvement, compliance and reducing risk. Her role of Quality and Governance Manager at Barking Havering and Redbridge, does not define or place her. She is also the Training Manager, a senior specialist and a Biomedical Scientist in Haematology and Blood Transfusion.
A role model to others, meeting the needs of the staff around her, she has achieved amazing things.
So much so that In 2016 NHS England commended her as one of a few inspiring female healthcare scientists to be selected for, and was invited to join, the 2016 fellowship program. Michelle was subsequently awarded the fellowship in 2017.
Before Michelle worked at BHR she worked at The Royal Marsden for 3 years specialising in Haematology and Blood sciences, before heading off to Barts for 2 years as a training officer.
This rare individual understands the importance of structure and providing clear areas of responsibility, with easy to understand reporting lines. These provides the platform to empower her staff and make them feel valued and supported. Michelle can foresee emerging skills gaps as experienced staff leave. Recruitment is difficult, so training and staff development are a key driver for her and her team, investing in people and providing confidence to others to put themselves forwards.
When UKAS issued a non-compliance for fridge and freezer monitoring within the Haematology Department at BHR, Michelle recognised the importance and acted immediately. Driven by the fact that blood was donated by patients seeking to save lives, this precious commodity could not be exposed to un-necessary risk, and so the need to assure compliance became a top priority.
Within the NHS, finding money to invest in new systems is a constant battle. This is exacerbated by a lack of the business acumen needed to create the case to justify investment against the backdrop of a heavily bureaucratic system; slow, tangled and multifaceted.
But not for Michelle who, with a supportive line manager quickly saw an opportunity. By combining the efforts of two valued suppliers of Siemens and Tutela, she enabled them to work in collaboration to resolve this non-compliance of their temperature monitoring. Helping them to create a fully managed service contract, she was able to acquire this necessary systems and spread the cost of many years, providing a fully manageable and planned expenditure over 5-10 years.
Leadership often means thinking differently from others around you, and can prove both exciting or a threat depending upon your values and standing. Michelle is on the move constantly, but even she admits that the mental cuts and bruises on the way can drain personal energy levels. Often others around you can view you as a role model, and this adds extra weight and responsibility to her role; not easy when also bringing up her 5 year old son with her husband’s full support.
Her story might not be unique and her role within the NHS, like many other roles can seem mundane, but her attitude and relentless energy and enthusiasm to improve processes and patient health outcomes around her, say a lot for her style of leadership and in our experience, this is genuinely remarkable. Staff and colleagues now look to her for guidance and advice. I suspect her wise words and wider view of healthcare can change lives.