Get to Know Will Laing, Operations Director for the NHS Workforce Alliance

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 Will Laing, Operations Director for the NHS Workforce Alliance. Find out more about Will’s background, his role and interests.

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

The Operations Director role is a new one for the NHS Workforce Alliance, reporting to the Executive Board and responsible to all five member organisations. It was established as part of an emerging Project Management Office function to ensure the Alliance has a balance of full-time dedicated resources as well as allocated time from the talented people in the commercial, communications, finance, and data teams across the Alliance members.

In the simplest sense, it’s my role to ensure the Alliance achieves its ultimate ambition of being the workforce partner of choice across the NHS.

Why are you passionate about this?

When I was working as the Account Director for Health at Crown Commercial Service, I saw a great opportunity to improve service and outcomes for the NHS by commercial organisations working together, articulating a credible national strategy and leveraging our shared operational expertise to make it happen. The Alliance was born from this initial idea – and I’m delighted to be given a chance to help deliver it.

What is the greatest challenge you face at work?

Well, there’s certainly a few to choose from! Some of the challenges are generic to any large-scale programme, such as getting the right focus on priorities, mobilising resources efficiently, and responding to events in your environment. But for me, the big picture here is helping the NHS to build and sustain its workforce. The NHS workforce market is huge, it’s complex, and – in the use of agency staff in particular – it’s been subject to central review at least since the days of the first Audit Commission reports in the late 1990s. Also, with the COVID-19 outbreak, enormous, new operational pressures have been exerted on the NHS, so it’s clear to me that the key challenge for the NHS Workforce Alliance is to be there to help, to provide outstanding commercial service and responsiveness, supporting the delivery of patient care.

What was your first job and how has this impacted you in your career?

Well, I’m old enough to have experienced the horrors of child labour, being woken up with a dash of cold water at 6am from the age of 12 (!) in freezing early 1980s Scotland to deliver newspapers before school, and deliver them again after school. My own kids live in clover! – My first career role though was a temporary job as a “Buyer’s Assistant” in the old North West division of NHS Supplies in 1995. It left me with a lifelong commitment to our health service and a desire to do the best I can for it.

And finally, tell us something surprising about yourself.

Actually, I tell everyone about this at the drop of a hat – I’ve loved music all my life, and a few years ago I got a chance to record a bunch of my own songs with a really fantastic group of musicians in Sweden. I actually made a proper record – vinyl and all!!!

For reasons still a bit unclear to me, this album – it’s called A Dangerous Street – is available on YouTube.

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