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In the second of our ‘meet the board members’ blogs, we hear from Ruth Hayward, who before coming Head of Commissioning (women and children) once washed overalls for miners!

Ruth’s Blog

I have lived and worked in Bradford all of my life, apart from a couple of years that I spent in Leeds. I am grandma to five children with another one on the way. Four of my grandchildren were born at Bradford Royal Infirmary and one at Airedale, so I am sampling the services that I have commissioned! I am also regularly using the Baby Buddy App to see what stages my unborn grandchild is at, which is really interesting doing it on a real-life basis.

My day role is Head of Commissioning for women and children and I work across the three clinical commissioning groups, but my working life started a world away from the health sector.

I started my career in industrial workwear for allied services and this was all about organising the washing of miner’s overalls across the many different coalfields across Yorkshire at the time, this career came to an end when coal mining ended.

So there was a need for me to find something else. I then moved into the District Estates Department at the Bradford Royal Infirmary. This was in the days when the Health Authority looked after and directly managed the hospital units and community units.

When the NHS moved to a commissioning delivery model I then moved to the commissioning arm looking after extra contractual referrals where people had care outside of the district that they lived in.

I then moved into a more administration and secretarial based role in the Planning Department, I progressed to a Business Planning Manager and this is when things really started for me in my career progression and to get moving out of an administration role which can be difficult to move on from.

In that time, I undertook my first degree with the open university in health and social care; I was a single parent and working full-time so it took me quite a long time to complete it but I got there in the end. Many years later I did my master’s degree in Leadership, Management and Change at Bradford University – so I feel I have developed over the years with lots of support from people around me from both at work and my home environment.

I must be a glutton for punishment as I am currently doing some coaching qualifications as well!

My role as Head of Commissioning for women and children’s services is quite a broad role which involves many things from pre-conception work to maternity services, children’s services up to transition into adulthood and beyond as I also commission some of the women’s services, including gynaecology services and sexual health services.

Much of my work is partnership based, hence being a member on the board at Better Start Bradford. I do a lot of partnership work with the Local Authority in various work streams. We are doing a lot of work bringing together health and social care and public health commissioning arrangements: getting ready for the new world, whatever that may be.

The other side of my role is much more of a pure health commissioning role. Within children’s services, we do a lot of work with the hospital about their children’s delivery and looking at care pathways for children and young people. Most people know about the wheezy child pathway which offers a continuum of care from primary care through school settings into urgent and emergency care. Then there are other pathways that we are trying to implement which support children with gastroenteritis, children with croup etc.

It is interesting trying to see how we can get all the different elements of health to come to work together, make links and to give consistent messaging, so that no children fall down gaps.

It’s an interesting world – it is very exciting at times but also very confusing. It’s a time of change for all of us. Commissioning is quite wide and quite broad. Most days I love it and very occasionally I don’t!

by Ruth Hayward

Head of Commissioning for women and children