Andrew's story

Andrew Kinglake is featured in Spark the Difference's Humans of Healthcare art exhibition and is interviewed here by Sam Meikle, founder of Spark the Difference.

You'll also find a link to Andrew's interview warm-ups below: Getting to know Andrew in 10 questions.

Sam: Welcome to the Humans of Healthcare edition of the Spark the Difference podcast. My guest in this episode is Andrew Kinglake. Andrew, thanks for joining me.

Andrew: Thank you.

Sam: Where’s your accent from?

Andrew: From the home counties of Buckinghamshire. It can change according to where I am in the country as well.

Sam: Where have you spent most of your working life?

Andrew: Based in London, I was out in Hertfordshire for a while but based in London.

Sam: What do you do for work now?

Andrew: Information security and governance.

Sam: And what does that mean for the person on the street?

Andrew: To the person on the street it means protecting their information appropriately and making it available, wherever possible and wherever appropriate.

Sam: How long have you been doing that for?

Andrew: Over 15 years now, I never thought I’d do it that long. When someone bends over my desk and says, ‘sort out this data protection thing for me, please.’

Sam: What made you decide to start working in health and social care?

Andrew: Initially it was just another job really and after a while it made me realise that I was interested in it. So I spent some time working in an NHS Trust, then worked outside healthcare and then back in healthcare. I’ve actually recently made the decision that healthcare is something that really interests me and I want to return to, which I’m lucky to be able to do again in a few weeks' time.

Sam: What’s made you stay, why do you keep coming back?

Andrew: Two things really – one, in my sort of role it's quite difficult to think you’re making, or could help make a difference to an individual person - working in other areas, working in the financial services area – it's just very much more about protecting the organisation as well and making money for the organisation. Whereas I think in healthcare there's a real opportunity to try and transform the profession a bit as well. To make it one where the average person on the street - their information is treated in the way that they would expect, not just protecting it but also making it available and accessible across the boundaries; the artificial boundaries that there are in healthcare.

I know that when my family has been ill, I don’t want someone asking me for consent all those times, I just want the treatment done and everything else to be done in the background. So I guess that’s the thing that hopefully I can help in a small way.

Sam: And what keeps you going, ‘cause I can’t imagine it being an easy role?

Andrew: I think it is, in a way - because its one of the few roles in which you get to talk and know and have great input across the organisation. There are things that are very different each day and you are also have conversations with very different levels of the organisation.

Sam: What has working in health and social care services meant to you?

Andrew: I think it's opened my eyes to the fact that there’s a real broad range of people inputting into the health and social care space and there’s an importance for each and every one of those roles. It’s not just the front line care staff, it’s the fact that there are other people supporting them in that background trying to make it as easy as possible. Again that is something I hope I can do - help to enable those who are delivering the direct front line care to do their job as easily as possible without all the extra work.

Sam: Thinking about when you or a family member used health or social care services, can you tell me about a time when things went really well?

Andrew: Yeah, so me. I walked to the doctors after I’d been moaned at for a week. So I walked a mile and half to the doctors. I said that I sort of had this little bit of chest pain since last year. They took me in and did the ECG, etc.

Then someone said, "you actually need to go off to hospital and we’re really sorry, but we’ve just called an ambulance for an old lady so you’re going to be a bit delayed”.

It was late by just couple minutes - not a problem what so ever. I was thinking, well there’s not actually really anything really wrong with me for all of this.

And within probably an hour and a half I was on an operating table at one of the heart hospitals and they did an investigation. Thankfully, they found that there was absolutely nothing wrong – it was a virus. But the treatment I got at that time was excellent really. It was really good. And quite apart from anything else, they kept feeding us tea and biscuits every half an hour which was phenomenal. I’ve never eaten so well.

Sam: The bit that’s sticking to me was that you walked a mile and a half to the doctors.

Andrew: Yeah it wasn’t really a problem at all, I think they were just panicking.

Sam: Knowing what you know now, if you could, what one piece of advice would you give yourself at the start of your healthcare career?

Andrew: I think probably stick with it. Don’t keep jumping in and out. Actually get yourself much more integrated with a lot of the activity that’s going on.

Sam: What does that look like?

Andrew: So I think, you know, really make that conscious decision early on that if you wish to do some work in healthcare, to not keep doing different bits of work in and out of healthcare. So that it’s consistent employment and you’re able to get to know a lot of people within that arena.

Sam: If you feel comfortable to do so, can you please tell me about the scariest, darkest or most challenging moment of your career?

Andrew: So its not scary now, but one of the most scary thing is - I was used to give presentations to small groups of people and then stood up in front of 300 people after having done a presentation to sort of 10 before, and I was really young at that time and sticks in my mind as one of the most scary times that I put myself out in an uncomfortable environment.

Sam: How did you get through it?

Andrew: As quickly as possible. Absolutely.

Sam: You were like a train track, speeding along.

Andrew: Absolutely. The 10 minute session was 5 minutes I think.

Sam: Your audience may have appreciated that.

Sam: What has working in healthcare taught you about people?

Andrew: I guess everyone is a person. I know it sounds really benign, but actually everyone should have the same amount of respect and the same amount of care, no matter who they are and their background.

Sam: Thinking about all of the people you have worked with and for over the years and all the people you have helped along the way who has had the greatest impact on you?

Andrew: Wow. I worked in same organisation as my wife for a while, so I should probably say her. But, apart from her…

Do you know the people I think probably that had the greatest impact - have changed me - are the people who are really struggling to work and have families as well and to balance that out; to just understand the challenges that they have got for that and the pressures that they feel that they’re not being successful that either side of what they are doing. So it’s not one person it’s a variety of people. That’s really change my outlook I think.

Sam: In what way?

Andrew: I think originally, many years ago – I’d have been very much in the camp, and just said ‘tough you’re here to work, get on with it’ and no sort of have empathy or understanding of that.

Sam: What have you had to work hardest at to be a success at your job?

Andrew: Well, I guess that’s from the starting point that am I a success? That I have done anything of success in the first place?

Sam: Oh Andrew!

Andrew: That’s open for a bit of debate. Let’s say that maybe in a few more years, we can look back and do that.

I think probably for me, it’s not wanting to do things too quickly and having to temper that as well. Particularly in different environments and really understanding the pace that the organisation is working at. Trying to push it a bit, trying to push it along - but realising that the world’s not going to change in a fortnight. Which is quite good if you go on holiday for a fortnight, you know when you come back, nothing will have changed fundamentally.

It can be quite a challenge and it’s quite a challenge for me to maintain energy as well, if it’s quite a slow pace.

Sam: Looking back across your career to date, what do you hope people you have worked with, remember you for?

Andrew: Just being relatively friendly and engaging and OK to get on in a workplace. I think that’s the lasting memory I’d like for people to have and that sort of respect about you and what you do and what you achieve in your role as well. In my role I think that's really important because most people think it's incredibly dull and you can be the ‘no’ person who sits in the corner, so those interpersonal relationships make things a success are really important.

Sam: I couldn’t agree more.

Sam: Is there anything that has come up in the course of our conversation that you are reflecting on now, that perhaps half an hour ago wasn’t front of mind?

Andrew: I think it’s always quite a challenge for me talking about what I want to do, how I want to achieve it itself and that period of reflection. So it’s really good to do this sort of thing and have these sort of conversations to really understand and to reflect on why I’m really wanting to do something; why I want to work in a particular area and the sort of role I’d like to do as well.

So think that’s quite challenge and probably one I’ll go away and think about and sob into my cup of tea tonight.

Sam: I’ve been speaking to some clinicians and they've been talking about the importance having built in reflection time into their careers. They have to do appraisals and some were saying we often don’t take this seriously enough and that’s such a big shame because that reflection time - that learning - is giving you the direction of where you want to go. So we were discussing is that a responsibility of an organisation or a system to help give you that time and space, or does it come down to the individual?

Andrew: To me it’s a personal responsibility. I think in my experience the systems around the appraisals can get terribly bureaucratic - as can anything that’s developed by someone with a passion in that area, they develop it for themselves rather than people being applied against.

In appraisals I normally have a much more light weight version if I was designing it. Hopefully this is not offending too many HR people.
There’s that space for that personal reflection as well. If that’s prompted by work that’s excellent, but I do think we all need our own personal responsibility to think about it ourselves.

Sam: Thank you very much for your time today Andrew.

Andrew: Thank you.

Sam: And thank you all for listening.