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Leading in the CCG and on social media

Leading in the CCG and on social media
By Angela Sharda
4 May 2017

Angela Sharda talks to GP Dr Nikita Kanani about her role as chief clinical officer at NHS Bexley CCG and her work founding online initiatives to mentor and support health professionals and increase access to education.

Angela Sharda talks to GP Dr Nikita Kanani about her role as chief clinical officer at NHS Bexley CCG and her work founding online initiatives to mentor and support health professionals and increase access to education.

Q: Tell us about your role as chief clinical officer at Bexley clinical commissioning group (CCG).
A: I was previously chair of the governing body, so this is quite a shift in roles. As accountable officer I’m involved in all aspects of the business and work closely with my executive team and the governing body. I’m also fortunate to work with a fantastic group of GPs, nurses and practice staff across the 27 GP practices in the borough. We have a strong rapport, which strengthens clinical commissioning and primary care development in Bexley. Our patient council is also strong and diverse – with them, we really feel like we can make a difference.

Q: What do you expect to be your biggest challenges?
A: The NHS faces a number of challenges in the coming year. In Bexley, the need for services is high, so we must be strategic about the way we commission locally.
We have worked closely with our neighbours across south-east London for a number of years and the south-east London sustainability and transformation plan (STP) is helping to formalise that partnership arrangement. Working closely together will help us to overcome the challenges we face.
Prevention is also a priority in Bexley. We have one of the highest obesity rates for children and adults in the borough and it is vital that, alongside our local authority colleagues, we work with residents to improve health and wellbeing.
As a borough we are now keen to have the conversations that matter – are children moving enough throughout the day? Can we stop the rise of fast food shops? I look forward to us creating an impact for generations to come.

Q: What are your concerns over STPs?
A: In south-east London, we recognise the value of working closely together as commissioners and providers. The risk of STPs is the loss of borough-level knowledge, and it is up to all of us to make sure that voice is not lost.
I know what keeps me awake at night; when I think about our residents, and we need to make sure we continue to capture that with shared standards and local delivery.

Q: What benefits do you think STPs can bring to the system?
A: There are a number of benefits:
• Doing things once rather than six times for each of the boroughs in our STP.
• Strengthening relationships between all parts of the system.
• Bringing disparate silos together. Yes, people will say they’ve seen it before, but that is not a reason not to try and pull the system together.

Q: You are co-founder of the Network (@TheNetwork001), an online community connecting doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals and students to improve the quality of healthcare across the globe. You have also set up the scientific mentoring and support network STEMMsisters. What made you decide to pursue them and what benefit have they provided?
A: My sister (Sheila) and I were very fortunate to study the subjects of our dreams. This resulted in us working in the subjects we studied – Sheila is an astrophysicist and space educator. We set up the social enterprise STEMM Sisters ( to give opportunities to young people from disadvantaged communities to access the experiences and support we have had. ‘STEMM’ subjects include science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine.

Q: What benefits have come from your social networking and what advice would you give others?                                                                                        A: I’ve been fortunate to have a broad career and this is partly due to social networking – joining forums, social networks (such as Twitter), WhatsApp groups, vlogging and more. It helps me connect with people all over the world and provides me with a platform of inspiration, opportunities and innovation.
I’m encouraging the new generation of GPs to get connected. We have a GP practice WhatsApp group where we can ask questions, raise awareness of events and training, socialise and promote clinical commissioning opportunities.

Q: You also work at Bexley CCG and pride yourself on keeping family at the forefront of your life. How do you manage to keep a strong work-life balance?
A: My world could be summed up in the Twitter hashtag #worklifechaos –I love being mum to two spirited children, being a GP and chief clinical officer of NHS Bexley CCG. The difference I can make for our population is incredibly important to me. Balancing the different parts of me, though, can be challenging and maintaining a work-life balance is crucial to us all. I do think ‘having it all’ is an unfair concept – but you can have a chaotic balance that works. It is important to set out your values clearly and stick to them. My kids know when I am dropping them to school, when I am doing bedtime (more often than not, thankfully), and that I will make every show or event going. Home is important to me, and makes me better – and more resilient – at work.

Q: What impact do you think you have made on your patients’ lives?
A: As chief clinical officer I guess I have the largest patient list – 237,000 to be precise! I feel I am able to bring about change as a commissioner. When I started as a GP, I’d listen to my patients and realise there were issues in the system that needed to be addressed. Now I can monitor services, plan for new services and redesign services. Some of the service redesigns I have been involved with have enabled patients to receive a more holistic package of care and generally feedback is positive.

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