A great example of cross-government collaboration is the ‘dream team’ which developed the NHS Get An Isolation Note service in March 2020. Combining the might of DHSC, DWP, NHSX and NHS Digital, they beat almost 200 nominees to emerge as winners of the Resilience & Rapid Response Award.
This award recognises excellence in crisis management, contingency planning or major incident response. Tamara Finkelstein, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, presented the award, rewarding the team’s phenomenal efforts.
The NHS Get An Isolation Note service was introduced at the start of the pandemic as a digital solution, enabling individuals to certify absence from work for COVID-19-related reasons via NHS111 online.
The Isolation Note service not only empowered citizens, it also protected GP clinical time, safeguarded access to and payment of benefits, and gave much-needed reassurance to both employers and staff.
Asked by host Clare Nasir what they were proudest of, spokesperson Ailsa McGinty said: “I’m absolutely delighted to be recognised with the wider team across government who contributed to delivering this innovative piece of work in such short order from conception through to delivery.”
Going that extra mile
“I think we sometimes take cross-government collaboration for granted. But that innovation, that openness to new ideas and going that extra mile through evenings and weekends to deliver something has made a real difference to citizens - and empowered them to find the information they need while protecting our frontline GP staff - I am incredibly proud.”
Speaking later, Ailsa described the team’s pleasure in their achievement and their strong team bond.
“We were shocked. Thrilled. Immensely proud for the team. Everyone put in a tremendous effort, setting aside and working across organisational boundaries to focus on jointly solving the problem and rapidly delivering a practical solution. It felt quite emotional to be recognised.”
Describing their motivation, Ailsa spoke of solving complex problems for which solutions have in the past seemed tricky. “Cracking these and getting them right for people who are impacted by them, gives you an amazing sense of purpose and satisfaction. Also seeing your work and ideas out there, in the real world making a difference, is a huge motivation.”
With 2021 getting off to a very busy start, Ailsa concluded by looking to the future. “Some of the cross-government team involved in the project have already moved on, so 2021 holds different things for different people.”
“Projects that the team members have gone on to, include establishing the government’s next strategy to tackling the obesity crisis, helping people to achieve a healthy weight and eat nutritiously, delivering the next stage of the government’s work and health agenda, supporting people with long-term health conditions and disabilities to remain in work, as well as continuing to deliver new innovative digital solutions.”