Get to Know Stuart Watkins, Customer Engagement Lead at Crown Commercial Service

The ‘Get to Know’ series showcases staff from around the NHS Workforce Alliance to give you a glimpse of the variety of roles in our organisation, and the people who perform them.

This month, we’re pleased to introduce Stuart Watkins. Find out more about Stuart’s background, role and interests.

Q: What is your role within the NHS Workforce Alliance, and what does it involve?

I am the Customer Engagement Lead for Crown Commercial Service. This involves liaising both on a national and regional basis with other Customer Lead colleagues across the NHS Workforce Alliance to provide independent workforce procurement and commercial expertise to build a sustainable workforce.

Q: Why are you passionate about this?

 I am passionate about my role because as we focus on elective recovery and place paramount importance on the wellbeing and recovery of our workforce. It is more important than ever that we have robust workforce plans and make efficient use of our flexible staff.

I enjoy collaborating with our partners to support  our trusts in adapting staffing models to meet the changing nature of demand, reducing staff shortages and off-framework  spend. Reducing off-framework spend is key, as it’s not a sustainable, cost-effective use of taxpayers’ money and creates risks to standards of care. I am very keen to promote on framework spend as the terms and conditions of our commercial agreements protect the NHS against poor agency behaviour, which is both detrimental to our healthcare system and the agency market.

Q: What is the greatest challenge you face at work?

The biggest challenge is getting trusts to share their data. The key thing for our customers to understand is that the members of the NHS Workforce Alliance share and have integrated their customer spend data, so we have a lot of data about the NHS from which we can derive actionable intelligence to the benefit of an ICS or an individual trust. 

We can also compare a trust’s workforce spend and supplier performance against the data we hold for neighbouring regions. We can share all this actionable intelligence with our customers today, to help inform their immediate and long term workforce strategies.

Q: What was your first job, and how has it impacted your career?

My first job was an analyst programmer for Nottingham County Council. We did not have personal computers then, but wrote code on paper cards which were keyed by a data prep department and then loaded onto a mainframe with magnetic tape. 

I was there at the birth of the internet, messaging a guy in California who wanted to know if Robin Hood really existed. Oh boy, how things have changed since then! Being in IT has taught me how to adapt to constant change, to what is now possible today that was not possible yesterday.

Q: How would you spend a perfect day off?

Cycling with my mates through the stunning countryside of  Rutland, with a couple of coffee (with caramel shots !) stops.

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