Sharon Dhadda has won the Black Country Allied Health Professional (AHP) Workforce Transformation Award, for demonstrating transformation through innovation in her radiology department.
Ms Dhadda, who is radiology workforce lead at the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust (RWT), revamped radiology services in her department by increasing staff numbers to previously difficult-to-fill roles and introducing an apprenticeship scheme so the trust can produce its own staff.
When asked how other departments could follow her lead, she said: “Appreciating that funding across the NHS is tight, there may not be the opportunity for departments to fund and recruit a dedicated workforce lead. My role is to oversee recruitment, training opportunities and retention opportunities within the department.
“Key parts of making this a success have been getting to know my local/regional NHS England team members who can advise and support on funding bids for trainees and courses. Reaching out to colleagues in the region to pool recruitment drives (shared interviews for multiple posts) and sharing job descriptions and personal specifications to ensure that we are offering fair and comparable opportunities across the region.
“Making connections with other colleagues in the region doing similar things in terms of international recruitment to share examples of good practice.”
Ms Dhadda also emphasised the importance of planning the exposure of diagnostic radiography to people who are making decisions about career choices at the right opportunity/time.
“We have a full calendar year of visits to local schools and careers days to talk about diagnostic radiography as a profession,” she said. “We are engaged with under 16 work experience and cadet days that allow young people to explore NHS careers at the right time to make appropriate decisions about what subjects to take.”
Ms Dhadda heads up staffing for radiology, which includes diagnostic radiography, one of 11 specialties AHPs are employed in at the Royal Wolverhampton Trust (RWT).
Ms Dhadda said: “I moved into this role two years ago and didn’t expect to be able to make so many significant changes in such a short space of time. We’ve had many firsts – our first diagnostic radiographer apprenticeship programme, our first experience of recruiting colleagues from an international profile in large numbers, and the introduction of a focused Clinical Education Team.
“This new role has been a wonderful experience so far and mainly because I have the backing and support of a fantastic team of managers and colleagues. Our story revolves around providing the best quality of care for our patients who are at the heart of everything that we do. I’m proud to be able to contribute to making that patient journey better by recruiting, retaining, and developing our staff.
“Helping people is at the core of my values and beliefs, and to be recognised for this work with an award is a lovely bonus.”
Ms Dhadda added that she comes from a “long line of civil servants”, which made her decision to work in the NHS a “bit of an eyebrow raiser!”
She said: “Radiography was certainly not something that my careers advisor talked to me about at school, so I undertook work experience at a local school instead. Having quickly realised that wasn’t for me, I undertook a week’s work experience in therapeutic radiography.
“I eventually settled on diagnostic radiography at the University of Hertfordshire at the age of 19 and haven’t looked back since.
“I’ve worked as a lead in setting up the Assistant Practitioner Program early on when this workflow was being introduced to the career profile and then went on to train as a Cath lab and Interventional radiographer, later taking on the role as superintendent radiographer in Cath labs and Interventional Radiology.”
She was presented with her award by Sir David Nicholson KCB, CBE, Group Chair of RWT and Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust at the ceremony held at West Bromwich Albion FC.
Stuart Simper, head of operational radiology, nominated Sharon.
He said: “We were a struggling department understaffed in almost every area. But after Sharon became workforce lead, the number of staff recruited is now over 100. Sharon has implemented a full training team to assist junior staff to fully develop. We’re now getting applications from all over the UK.
“Her appointment made this department a sought-after place to work and her input is invaluable. She’s a fantastic member of staff.”
The eight Black Country AHP Awards cover 2,200 registered AHPs across six NHS Trusts – RWT, Walsall Healthcare, Sandwell and West Birmingham, The Dudley Group, Dudley Integrated Health and Care Trust and Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.
Extended to local authority and private/voluntary sector, there are approximately 4,592 registered AHPs and 545 AHP support workers from Primary and Secondary Care in the area.
Each trust selected its own winner who was put forward for the Black Country awards.
(Image: Sharon Dhadda, via RWT)