A day in the life of a Deputy Director of Quality

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Margaret Southcote-Want

Deputy Director of Quality, at Barnet Enfield Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust


My day begins early with me usually arriving for work about 7.30 to 8 am depending on traffic.  I am based at St. Ann’s Hospital in Tottenham but my role covers all our sites across Barnet, Enfield and Haringey.


On a typical day

I catch up with emails and check the diary to see what meetings are scheduled.  On average I receive about 250 to 300 emails a day (!) but I’m currently making the effort to ring people or go see them as opposed to always replying to the email.  Meetings I attend are varied, team and borough governance meetings, commissioner quality meetings, NHS England Homicide network meetings, one to ones with staff, CQC contact and Middlesex University meetings to name a few.  Besides this, I lead and carry out quality reviews and have facilitated projects such as Falls collaborative, Dementia Friends initiative and currently working towards a change of our risk management reporting system and facilitating the mental health Star and Safe Wards initiatives with Clare Scott, Deputy Director of Nursing.

The best thing about my role is…

The variety; being able to meet, support, challenge, manage and mentor staff across the organisation is just great.  Being able to be involved in a large variety of work with a large variety of staff of all different professions to improve standards and quality of care for patients is a privilege and one which I am fortunate to have.


My day morphs into one with me often working through breaks and lunch – my team keep me supplied with cups of tea even if they think my white and pathetic looking tea is a disgrace to tea drinkers

I’ve been in my current role…

For three and half years; I commenced my nursing career 35 years ago and can safely say it’s been a blast – lots of ups and downs but a career I have loved for all that.

My proudest achievement is…

Fighting Cancer, learning what inner strength I have, completing an MA in Management & Leadership; a goal I set myself on diagnosis; completing the MoonWalk 2017, a 26 mile walk around London City raising money for Breast Cancer Research – the hardest physical challenge I have ever done, I also had an article published in the BMJ and was the first nurse in the UK to chair a hospital Ethics Committee.

What changes have you helped work on to improve the service for patients, staff, students?

I have led or been part of teams that have led improvements in environments and pathways for patients, including patients in quality audit and assurance; small changes of getting visiting times changed to accommodate wishes often made a big difference to friends and family visiting patients.  Staff support, mentoring and supervising staff and getting great joy at seeing staff gained promotions or moves to specialities they have dreamed off – but I’m feeling old now that some are and have taken up Director posts or have families of their own – dare I say I’ve seen a lot already retired – but I am not ready to do that just yet!    I’ve enjoyed helping students I have mentored over time, been involved in their curriculum development, or worked closely with universities and I’ve always strived to make their journey to qualification fun as well as fulfilling.


I often work through lunch – don’t do as I do though!


I’m often heard saying…

Let’s give it a go

What inspires me is…

Wanting the best for patients – I ask myself regularly if I provide care that I or my family would want to receive

The hardest part of my job is…

Fitting in everything I want to do and realising I can’t have it done by yesterday

The best part of my job is…

Working with patients and staff

What qualifications or experience do you need to do your role?

Registered Nurse, qualifications in Intensive Care Nursing, Orthopaedic Nursing, Care of the Dying, Risk Management, Healthcare Ethics and a Masters in Management & Leadership. My own career path and experience has included has included Ward Manager/Sister posts, Practice Development, Matron posts, Deputy Director in Education & Training, Deputy Director of Acute Trusts, Deputy Chief Nurse in Teaching Hospital, Director in a variety of hospitals in London and outside London.


Each one is different, meetings, report writing, analysis, fire-fighting and the rare time to do some thinking and catch up with news and gossip from colleagues!


What’s the best thing you’ve learned in your role on the job?

What wonderful work staff are doing to improve the care patients receive in the trust.

What does bite sized learning mean to you?

Easy, quick, meaningful.

What tips do you have for anyone wanting to join your profession?

Jump in and join, taking every opportunity you can.

How are you compassionate to yourself or colleagues?

Compassionate leadership is about looking after yourself so you can look after others – need to make time for both.

Before I leave work 

I switch off – it will all be there tomorrow.


After work

To help switch off work I socialise, do embroidery, read or simply trying to avoid the housework!

MSW quote

If you could travel back in time what work tip would you give to your younger self?

Don’t be afraid to ask, there’s no such thing as a stupid question, just a poor person who doesn’t take it with openness.

A day in the life… 
Interview with Fiona Cameron @Cameron_Fiona
Digital Communications Manager,  My Care Academy.
Read more of Fiona’s blogs on this site here

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