Where I started

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Danny Mortimer

18 / 1 / 2016 9am

NHS Employers chief executive Danny Mortimer reveals how he began his NHS career, as part of the #NHSwhereIstarted campaign.

I started twice in the NHS.

The first time, I was 18. I had finished my A-levels, was nervously awaiting my results and hoping to get a place at university. For some reason, my mum started coming home with job application forms and insisted I complete them. I bought a tie, got an interview, was offered a job and started as a porter at East Birmingham one July night.

It was a great role with fabulous people, and I was treated as a grown up (although mothered a bit too). It was also hard work, interesting, diverse and exciting. I guess you could say the NHS ran in my family - my mum was a midwife at the time - but that summer at East Birmingham is when the NHS really got into my blood. I went back every summer and during other vacations, I fell utterly and completely for the NHS and its work.

The second start, I was 22. I had finished my degree and had started applying for management training schemes, preferably in the NHS. This time I bought a suit, had interviews and was eventually offered a job as a regional personnel management trainee for West Midlands, based in Stoke-on-Trent. I spent two years here, again with supportive people, but no more mothering. I've worked in the NHS ever since and it continues to be as interesting and rewarding as it was back then.

Looking back to my 18 and 22 year old selves, the experiences when I started were very similar, even if the jobs were quite different. What blew me away was the sheer scale and importance of the endeavour, but also the intimacy of the team work and the immediacy of the camaraderie. I am indebted to the team in Birmingham who showed me the ropes and guided me through, and I am similarly indebted to the team in Stoke whose work with me laid the basis for everything I have done since. They were interested in helping me to succeed and accepted me into the team with ease and humour. There was a pride in my progress, but also candour about what I needed to do better.

We need to make sure employers feel supported to keep doing this for future generations. The NHS isn’t doing badly - in our recent survey of more than 1,200 16-24 year olds working in the NHS, 86.5 per cent said that their experience of working in the NHS had been positive and almost 70 per cent thought they would still be in the NHS in ten years’ time.

But we can always do better. Only 6 per cent of the NHS current workforce is aged 16-24, and we can do more to bring young people in. We need their talent, enthusiasm and new ways of thinking if we are to build a workforce that is fully equipped for the future.

My experience when I started (both times), speaks for the fact that the NHS looks after new people better than anyone. I felt then - and feel now - part of a terrific team of people from all backgrounds and parts of the world. For me, the NHS was the perfect place to start my career.

Share your story of where you started in the NHS on Twitter using #NHSwhereIstarted.

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