Connect has really invested in my development

Stephen Swift, MSK Team Leader, Service Transition Manager and Developing Advanced Physiotherapy Practitioner in Pain Management, talks about moving from the NHS and his development at Connect.

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I transitioned over to Connect from an NHS service and whilst it was an unsettling period, I was one of the first Team Leaders appointed, and have since taken up senior opportunities including completing a Developing Advanced Practitioner role and Service Transition Manager.

“I’m so impressed at the progressive nature of the company, always looking to improve and challenge what they do.”

Why did you chose a career in physiotherapy?

I played lots of sports as a kid, mainly swimming at county standard and therefore came across a lot of physios. My mum was also a hospital nurse and I always liked picking her up from work and seeing what went on in hospitals. From there I’ve always had an interest in biology and healthcare so I studied Physiotherapy at the University in Hertfordshire.

I completed my junior rotations at Watford General Hospital before working in a variety of senior NHS and private sector MSK roles including 3 years of self-employed work, prior to joining the South West Essex contract, run by the North East London Foundation NHS Trust. Connect took over running the community MSK service in April 2015 which is when I was TUPE’d across from NELFT.

It was a challenging transition

I think I was less apprehensive than most about the transition due to a varied work background but there wasn’t a huge amount of information around and coming from the NHS (for 9 years) it felt really unsettling. I suppose it was challenging because nobody knew what to expect.

There were quite a few issues initially but this is when my attitude towards Connect started to change. Connect arranged for Richard Pell to come down to support the service and Connect’s Executive Chairman Andrew Walton travelled down to Essex on a weekly basis to speak to all the staff, find out the issues and see how they could support us.

This was quite new to me, being from the NHS I wasn’t used to seeing managers and certainly not directors – you’re just left to get on with it, if things were going wrong.

Gradually things started to improve and I took on a Team Leader role so I could see the plan and where the service was headed. My wife (a NHS physio in a different field), has been impressed by the difference the move has made on me, and the positivity that comes from working at Connect.

Connect gives all our ideas the time of day to be considered

Things have continued to improve within the SWEX contract and I voluntarily moved to a Connect contract in order to progress into a Developing Advanced Physiotherapy Practitioner in Pain Management.

I like the fact that the company is constantly looking to change and improve on services, whether that be by modifying exercise groups, changing referral services and generally just listening to our ideas. It’s good that I can do more advanced clinical and operational management work and there are lots of different opportunities for you to develop skills.

Connect has really invested in my development

I’ve done the leadership and management course over the last year. It was great to meet up with others in similar roles and talk about different services, sharing ideas.

Connect is funding my Master’s Degree in pain management with a number of modules at Keele University, Stoke on Trent, allowing me to develop into a specialist pain management role.

I’ve completed my Developing APP role which lasts 12-18 months, and I’m now a fully-fledged APP together with a Service Transition Manager. This will involve me setting up a new pain management service and spreading best practice throughout the company.

I became Service Transition Manager in January 2018, so am starting to utilise the leadership skills I’ve built up, to develop new services and most importantly use the experience of being TUPE’d across, to support others going through a service transition process.

Connect has powerful clinical outcomes data which allows us to constantly improve

Connect’s data warehouse collects data about the outcomes of the treatments we do. It’s a really powerful thing because you can look at areas where perhaps you’re not performing so well and you can benchmark yourself as a clinician against standards, highlighting in an instant, any learning opportunities or great performance. We can then mimic good performance across the company.

How would you sum up your time so far at Connect?

Overall after a difficult start it’s been great! Everyone is so open to ideas and you can speak to anyone at any level – they will always support you. What comes from that is there are always opportunities for you to develop and be flexible with your work role – that’s a really positive thing.

In Connect, just because something is always done in that way, it doesn’t mean that’s the best way.

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

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