Connect Health helped me to realise my ambition

Sadie Booker, Service Manager for North Kirklees and Wakefield since June 2017, tells us how Connect has helped her to realise her ambition to specialise in operational management.

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It’s a really flexible working environment, and one that’s excelling in healthcare because it’s willing to do things differently

Every day is a journey into something new

My career in physiotherapy was prompted by my Dad, who had an accident that meant he needed surgery and hand therapy by a physiotherapist. That was my first interface with physio and that early interaction with healthcare led me to want to do a degree in physiotherapy. Prior to me starting my degree, I took a gap year to get some work experience and spent a year as a physio assistant on a stroke unit and worked in paediatrics and outpatients.

I realised at quite an early stage that I wanted to specialise in women’s health

I’ve had good experience in areas such as spinal injuries, head injuries, neuro rehab and MSK outpatients, but I was always keen to move into physiotherapy focused on pelvic health. I’ve worked for the NHS in Yorkshire and Staffordshire for the last 14 years, but during the last 8 years I have specialised in pelvic health as a women’s health physiotherapist and a service lead for the Sheffield continence service.

I’ve been able to balance my career with my children

I had my first child in 2011 and when I returned, I worked solely on women’s health problems and as a service lead, three days a week. In 2016 I had my second child and towards the end of my maternity leave, I began to feel that I needed a new challenge. I’d progressed professionally, gaining two post graduate certificates and the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson programme gave me an MSc Masters in NHS Healthcare Leadership and I wanted to apply this in practice. I was looking for something that would push me, something more managerial and saw the Connect advert online. I had just two hours to apply before the closing date, and I got a call the next day and after interview, was offered the Service Manager role for North Kirklees and Wakefield.

The culture in Connect is one that is open to challenge and passionate about making a difference in healthcare.

Connect has been really welcoming. The place is right for me and I’m right for the place

I believe I’m here to make a difference and I don’t sit quietly by. I feel it’s my job to challenge the norm; I get a real kick out of helping to implement new ideas. I’m not driven by the usual management checklists, I’m passionate about people – the staff and their patients. My motivation is working with individuals to transform them from being ineffective and demoralised to become effective and happy. Connect offered me an opportunity to have a better work/life balance. With a short commute into work this allows me to spend more time with my children before they go to bed.

I’ve been supported in my ambition to continue to improve my leadership skills

I believe you can continue to learn as a manager and that a good leader develops and empowers people, helping frontline staff to feel they have a voice.

Some of the staff working in the two services I support have come from the NHS and been unsure about working for a private organisation. I could understand their issues and help them to appreciate the benefits and values of Connect; my reward is watching their transition to becoming engaged and motivated members of the team. If they’re happy, the patients will be happy.

I love the family feel of working at Connect

Everyone knows you on a first name basis; that’s never been the case in other organisations I’ve worked in, for example I was one of 14,000 staff members. You really feel you can voice your ideas and that they will be valued and welcomed.

Every day is different

I love it that no two days are the same. There’s no predictability and for me that’s an opportunity to push yourself and improve your skills. I’m still learning the job, consolidating my knowledge and turning theory into practice with the support of senior management. I’m able to make the most of my existing skills and experience, and push myself further to develop professionally. That’s something I’m able to pass on to my teams, helping them to improve and progress by giving feedback and working with them on their leadership and management skills.

There are many opportunities to bring forward your ideas and suggestions

Connect is an organisation that doesn’t want to stand still – it’s constantly investing in research and pushing healthcare forward. If you want it, you have the chance to make a real difference in a way that can be more difficult in a large NHS organisation.

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

You can download Sadie Booker’s Story here