Last Modified: 8:48am 27/09/2023

Admin Appreciation Day – Executive Support Team

Our executive assistants are based at the Trust’s corporate headquarters in Oak House. They’re a team of five led by office manager Laura Varney. Between them Laura, Sharon Lloyd, Nicky Peddle, Nicola Bailey and Liz Andrews manage a diverse workload, ensuring that the hospital’s executive team, led by CEO Joe Harrison, are ably supported to carry out their demanding roles.

The five women have many years of administrative expertise, gained variously in the commercial sector and as a direct result of career progress through internal promotion. The team are frequently the first point of contact for all manner of queries, both internal and external. This includes liaising with organisations such as the CQC (Care Quality Commission), HSE (Health and Safety Executive), and the British Medical Association as well as HM Coroner, the Integrated Care Board and regional colleagues and sometimes even the odd VIP visitor! As well as diary management of the senior leadership team, they ensure that agendas and relevant papers for key meetings are prepared on time, as well as producing accurate minutes to strict NHS criteria. The team work closely with the Trust Secretariat office to ensure the organisation is well governed and adhering to its legal responsibilities.

‘As you can imagine, the executive directors have considerable demands on their time and as a support team we work closely together to ensure their diaries are managed with no clashes while taking into account the ever-changing landscape that is involved in running a hospital,’ explains Laura, who primarily supports chief executive Joe Harrison.

While there are some regular meetings that require executive support – for example, the twice-weekly Gold Command meeting – there are numerous other items on every executive director’s to-do list that need input from Laura and her team. Their roles call for innate knowledge of key staff across the MKUH main site and Witan Gate, and they are frequently called upon to troubleshoot all manner of enquiries.

‘There really is no typical day for the team,’ says Laura. ‘While there are certain meetings and committees that are scheduled in well in advance, there can also be plenty of work we’re called on to do at very short notice. It means the days are never boring and as a team we support each other to ensure none of us gets overwhelmed by the workload. Between us, we have a great deal of knowledge about Trust processes and the huge range of administrative tasks that need doing on a regular basis.

‘It can sometimes be quite pressured, but we make a point of stopping for a cup of coffee and a quick catch up whenever there is a spare moment. We’re a friendly team and away from the office we like to go out for dinner every now and then when we can align our own diaries!’ she adds.