Connect Health has given me the opportunity to specialise in MSK, to get some significant patient experience and the ability to upskill and challenge myself

Corey Harding, Service Manager for the Herts Valleys MSK service explains how he’s developed his leadership skills and flourished in his career.

14 April 2020

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I wanted to be a physio from a young age

I’ve always been interested in how the body works and I like helping people, so a career in health was the perfect choice for me. I’ve also always been involved in sport; rugby, football, cycling and health and fitness in general. Before I went to university I did some work experience in hospitals, spending time with NHS clinicians and occupational therapists to get an understanding of the NHS.

I began my degree in 2009 at the University of Hertfordshire, graduating in 2013. I should have qualified in 2012 but had to retake a year. It was hard as I was doubting my ability, but kept going, thinking I’ve done all this work, I can’t stop now.

Once qualified, I opted to do locum work, working with the Charing Cross specialist community service. I also did some private work and supported a semi-professional rugby club. I then worked at Southend Hospital for two years as a junior physiotherapist carrying out standard core rotations: respiratory, orthopaedics, MSK and community. I got to the point where I knew I wanted to specialise in MSK and applied for a few jobs, but then decided to travel for a few months around the Far East and Americas. Before I left, the hospital orthopaedic department contacted me and offered a Band 6 role for when I came back. I was only there for three months as I was under the impression it would be an elective orthopaedic ward, but the role was focused on trauma, to which I wasn’t keen on.

My first impression of working at Connect Health was that I loved it

I was contacted by an agency regarding a job with Connect Health at South West Essex Physiotherapy (SWEX). I was offered the job as a senior physio in August 2016 and it was quite nice because there were a few familiar faces. It was the work I wanted to be doing.

I think the clinical ethos is spot on at Connect Health

I felt very frustrated when I was a junior physio using passive treatments and not getting anywhere – patients’ outcomes weren’t improving. Connect Health strives for evidence-based practice.

It was a case of the right time, right place for me

I was appointed physio team lead in 2018, so that gave me more exposure to operational tasks and leading a team. I left SWEX on an interim basis in February 2019 to become Service Manager at Herts Valleys, which was made permanent in April 2019. This new role has been a real challenge but a positive step in my career.

I like that you get exposure to other projects working at Connect Health

I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in projects such as the PhysioLine service, not only at SWEX but across a number of different services in Connect Health which has been really enjoyable. That was one of my first exposures to management task responsibilities. This included auditing, providing supervisions, teaching sessions, looking at data and ensuring the team had the support they needed. You don’t get that sort of opportunity elsewhere.

The expectations at Connect Health are high

We strive for excellence and best quality of care for all of our patients. With a service the size of Herts Valleys that means a significant workload, but we all understand the pressures and responsibilities of the work.

I’m far more comfortable in this role as I need to have a challenge

I need to have that added pressure to ensure I’m achieving what I want to achieve. I want to progress in my career as a leader but I’m working out how to juggle that with my clinical work.  I’ve recently completed a CSP funded Master’s module in Leadership for Allied Health Professionals. The course lasted six months and covered the theory and different models you can apply from a leadership point of view, and it was interesting to hear from people with similar challenges to me. It’s given me strategies I can apply in my role such as how to deal with conflicts, how to empower people and ways of networking. It’s been good to learn about different leadership strategies and how to apply them in the current healthcare climate.

Take the leap

There are ups and downs in any job, but I’d tell anyone ‘Never give up, keep going, you’ll get there’. There are great career opportunities at Connect Health and great projects to be involved in which you might not get elsewhere. The ethos I’ve applied is just go for it, take the jump, make the leap, be bold.


If you’d like to find out more about working at Connect Health, contact

Click here to download Corey Harding’s Story

“There’s a real family feeling at Connect Health. Little things like getting your birthday off are really nice. All around me I see people progressing in their career.”