Chris Saunders, Head of Operations for Dermatology and Endoscopy, talks about his unusual career journey, how he came to realise that healthcare was the industry for him and why DMC is an outstanding organisation to work for.
"DMC possesses an exceptional team that is united in its purpose, striving to grow and improve the organisation for the betterment of patients."
After holding various positions, such as working as a chef and a van driver, it was at the age of 22 that I made the decision to attend university to study anthropology.
“I moved to Australia with my girlfriend (now wife!)”
At the beginning of our careers we believed that we might not have the opportunity to travel later in life. Consequently, we devoted a year to travel Australia and explore the country whilst also working. However, we realised that we missed our family and friends so we decided to return home, albeit missing the weather and the beach!
"I decided on a career in healthcare"
My primary motivator stems from the sense that each day I feel like I’m working towards something that benefits people in a profound way. Healthcare holds immense significance for everyone. While I’m not a clinician, I derive great pride from knowing that both the strategies I implement and the team I oversee are genuinely making a difference to people’s health and well-being.
"I realised that leadership was my forte along with a keen interest in improving processes and patient services"
An opening came up at the Royal Brompton as head of administration and I was there for 6 years, setting up a brand new private patient unit which offered diagnostics and outpatient appointments for lung and hear patients. I hired all the staff and opened the service to the public, and while it started as a building site, by the time I left we were seeing 2000 patients a month.
As the clinic was running itself, I felt my work had been completed and I was keen to pursue a role supporting NHS patients, so decided to join Omnes ENT as the general manager. I had to learn a lot about RTT and how we manage contracts with ICBs. I was working from home full time, and began to realise how much I missed being in an office, so made the decision to move to DMC.
"I joined DMC in July 2023"
The team is excellent, displaying a cohesive alignment with the company’s strategic vision, as everyone is working harmoniously towards the same goals. I see a significant number of dedicated and passionate people striving to ensure the delivery of outstanding services.
"I've fostered strong working relationships with clients, colleagues and stakeholders"
I’m a strong senior manager with the ability to understand and interpret data. My role in dermatology and endoscopy operations involves sound commercial decision making, being highly organised and leading a team to deliver multi-site operations.
"Quality assurance is a key driver for me"
It is essential that all the NHS contracts that I oversee are able to deliver and exceed on their performance and operational KPIs. Dealing with patient feedback and incidents falls under my remit as well. An important part of patient management is to deal with feedback quickly and swiftly. You need to learn from any incidents and put a clear process in place to ensure learning happens.
"It's great to be back in an office environment"
The main benefit with working at DMC so far is being back in an office and having the one to one time with the team. Seeing everyone- from the directors to the admin staff- is really important for me
"I'm proud of the achievements I've made in leadership"
I know people who have started their careers as receptionists and are now managing clinics. I’ve encouraged them to carry out management training and created roles where they can gain the necessary experience in line management by supervising a smaller team, to help them progress.
"I thrive on making people believe they can take the next step"
It’s easy to stay in the same job, but I feel it is really important to try and empower people to grow.
"My advice is to follow your instincts"
With a decade of experience in healthcare, I believe it is crucial to enact changes when they are necessary. My career path involved diverse roles and later attending university. If I had enrolled at 18, I think I might have left by 19. Career advancement and life journeys aren’t universally structured: each person follows a unique path. So my advice is to trust your instincts and have the confidence to make the decisions you deem necessary. Let your inspiration stem from your own ideas rather than conforming to external expectations.
"Ultimately, working in healthcare is all about the patients"
The media often highlights the difficulties faced by the NHS, and significant efforts have been made to enhance the situation. However, what truly captivated me is the passionate individuals who work in healthcare and consistently give their best efforts. Their level of commitment is unparalleled and distinguishes them from professionals in any other field.