Stephen Mathew, Service Manager for Labs and Pharmacy
Stephen Mathew is the Service Manager for Labs and Pharmacy at GOSH, a “multi-faceted and challenging” role, and one which Stephen clearly enjoys.Stephen’s career at GOSH began in 2013. Needing a new development challenge, Stephen was encouraged by a family contact who was working at GOSH to explore job opportunities at the trust via the bank – the bank being an agency for temporary hospital roles.
Stephen’s first role was working within the Radiology Department as part of an improvement project, which required him to analyse the starting and finishing times for staff. It provided Stephen with some key benefits as he explains: “With this first role I got to move around the trust and see how the medical records, the speciality departments and the radiology teams worked. It was an overarching role and I got to understand how the hospital worked in a very short space of time.”
From there Stephen covered a temporary booking office vacancy at Band 3 level within the same Radiology team and secured the role four months later on a permanent basis.
‘It was a puzzle solving role… juggling and fitting patients into appointment slots. Informing patients that we had managed to squeeze them into an earlier appointment slot was always satisfying.”
Stephen was keen to gain managerial experience and the post of Medical Secretary appeared the next logical step. Stephen stepped in to a similar post of Divisional PA and this was a split role – a quarter of it was devoted to Multi-Disciplinary Team coordination. This entailed catching new referrals, capturing how and when these cases were being treated by the hospital’s cancer services, and then submitting the information to the national databases to ensure compliance with national targets.
Stephen explains the valuable insight he gained with this position: “I liked this role for a number of reasons. Firstly, it was a new service, which I didn’t have a lot of knowledge of and I enjoyed the opportunity to improve it. The second part was the PA side – sitting in senior management meetings and gaining a sense of the issues which senior leaders have to tackle was great exposure.”
In pursuit of improvement
This PA role was also valuable as it provided Stephen with access to service managers who recognised his desire to pursue an improvement based role. One service manager recommended that administration management might provide the pathway through to service management. Shortly afterwards an Administration Manager Band 5 position in the Labs became available to which Stephen applied and was successful.
“I line managed a team of seven, my first experience of line management. It was a steep learning curve and one I really enjoyed.”
The work had a strong people development and service improvement side to it as Stephen worked very closely with the service managers. “I gained a lot of exposure to service improvement and the financial side of things – understanding the impact of why we need to pay invoices… and how it affects our bottom line.”
Stephen saw the roll out of the hospital wide Electronic Patient Record (EPR) project as a way to sustain his interest in service improvement. He secured a Band 6 fixed term posting as a Configuration Analyst for 18 months in the EPR team
“This role was IT focused and I learnt many new IT skills. It also involved a lot of project management. This role was crucial in exposing me to the skills that would enable me to become a Service Manager.”
Stephen in his EPR role looked after several services and discovered how they worked. He also grew accustomed to delivering on very short turnaround times – all aspects that stood him in very good stead as a Service Manager.
After EPR, Stephen was appointed to his current role of Service Manager for Labs and Pharmacy. A challenging and varied role, though one he thrives on. Stephen manages two reports and is accountable for a further seven. Stephen had lots of experience of labs but none of the pharmacy, “I just threw myself in head first” he reflects and immersed himself in the details.
Working towards a common goal
Asked what he likes about working at GOSH, Stephen replies: ‘It’s about working towards a common goal and working in a supportive and collaborative culture.” He adds: “It’s [GOSH] a unique environment and I get to work with staff who are very passionate and committed in what they do.”
Stephen’s memorable GOSH working experiences are many, though there is one, which remains especially vivid. As a Band Three booking in appointments in the Radiology Department Stephen remembers a call from an anxious parent.
“A mum phoned up who had a daughter who was due an MRI scan three or four months down the line, and asked whether there was any way to squeeze her daughter in earlier. So I just wanted to help them, so I said ‘I’ll try and I’ll see what I can do’. I spoke to the radiographers, who confirmed they had a 15-minute slot that evening. So the daughter had the scan that night. Mum was appreciative. I was just pleased I could help. The following day the Lead Radiographer came down to see me and said that if the child had not been booked in that night they may not have detected the tumour in the child’s ankle as soon.”
It is a powerful story and one that really amplifies Stephen’s earlier point about how important teamwork is and how vital working towards a “common goal” remains.
Interested in following in Stephen's footsteps? Access our admin and clerical job opportunities here.