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A day in the life of a PCC expert adviser – Sarah Jones

Hello, I’m Sarah Jones and I’ve been with PCC for 12 years. I live in the Yorkshire and the Humber area and I’m the regional lead for North West of England and Isle of Man. I lead our eye care work and I’m a member of the medical team.

Sarah Jones

I worked with my colleagues to develop our eye care and medical work programmes which are delivered as part of our national events programme and as local workshops for annual contract holders. When the pandemic hit our face to face national events programme and local workshops were suspended. We quickly reviewed and converted our training sessions to a virtual platform delivery, using MS Teams and Zoom. Virtual sessions have received positive feedback. We review and amend the sessions based on feedback from clients.

The eye care work programme has been transformed and adapted to provide training to individuals who are completely new to eye care contracting and commissioning, some who have a little knowledge or need a refresher and those who are experienced at managing their contracts. Our support is layered to cover introduction through to deep dive sessions, which are a mix and theory and group work to drill down and consider specific scenarios they may face, giving delegates the opportunity to discuss these in a safe environment. Our training is delivered in such a way it enables individuals to review and reflect between each session. As part of our eye care support we deliver eye care virtual surgeries available to annual contract holders. These are an opportunity to share what’s happening across the country for those who are supporting the commissioning and contracting of eye health services. It gives individuals the opportunity to ask questions, seek advice and guidance, and share learning.

My work is varied and consists of supporting clients with contractual queries, discussing how they can get the most from their annual support contract this was particularly important last year with Covid-19. I worked with my clients to understand their support needs and how their contract could be flexed to be more responsive to address and meet their individual support needs, developing and agreeing work programmes against their contract and ‘checking in’ to see if clients are okay given the reduced capacity of commissioning teams, the uncertainty and increased stress and pressure brought about by the pandemic.

Here’s an example of feedback received from my clients: ‘Please can I thank both you and the team at PCC for the help and guidance given in helping us to utilise our contract allocation for 2019/20, especially at the latter end of the contract and in such a short timeframe and all the while ensuring we got value for money and for the support provided by your facilitators and tutors during the planning of and the running of our recent bespoke webinars, which made the process for us less demanding and saved us a lot of time’ and ‘PCC provides a range of training and support opportunities that are very relevant to CCG staff working in primary care commissioning. We value our subscription and the opportunities for staff learning and development provided by PCC.’

Daily I respond to helpdesk queries. Queries cover a range of complexities, requiring additional research to be undertaken and sometimes one to one calls to gain a better understanding on the query and following this up with a quality assured response. One client said ‘We have used the help desk more of late, especially contracting colleagues. The quality of the responses have been very useful and as such has given us greater confidence in continuing to subscribe to PCC for this type of support, I would like to personally say thank you for the effort that has been made and I look forward to continuing to work with you and your colleagues over the coming year.’

I work with our team of associates to develop new products for example, procurement and bid writing training, workforce planning. I have also worked with my clients to provide ‘added capacity’ to identify their specific eye care contract requirements and taking forward the identified areas of work on their behalf. One of my clients provided the following feedback ‘PCC was approached to support our eye care team to add remote capacity due to the current pressures resulting from Covid-19. The team was very responsive, understood from the outset the requirements, kept our team fully up to date on progress and carried out and completed work within agreed timescales. PCC are very supportive and allowed our annual contract to be utilised more flexibly to avoid a delay in delivering this support, PCC provided much needed help to our team freeing us up to focus on other areas of work.’

I have also provided capacity to support extremely complex general ophthalmic service contract queries between contracting parties, the support consisted of; virtual meetings with the client, a review of archived files and documents, review and drafting of communication with affected parties, pulling together a chronological timeline of activity, drafting reports and identifying risks for consideration by client and preparing report and supporting evidence for submission to the clients legal services for review.

Our consultancy work provides much needed capacity for clients, especially with the current challenges and workload pressures facing commissioning teams.