Hi, my name is Jon Shingleton and I am an Operational Research Fast Stream Analyst. The second round of the 2012 Analytical Fast Stream is open for applications and I would like to encourage those with a numerate background and an interest in solving complex problems to apply for the GORS Fast Stream. It is both an interesting and fulfilling career.
Working in Operational Research (OR) in the Civil Service provides the opportunity to influence government policies that impact all areas of society. You will undoubtedly have seen the various political stories lately, including transformation of the NHS, major redesign of the welfare system, establishing open schools and dealing with overcrowded prisons. OR analysts are involved in all these areas, providing objective and pragmatic analysis to support these critical areas.
I am based in the Department of Health (DH) in Leeds and currently provide analytical support to policy colleagues responsible for ensuring the availability, suitability and quality of staff in the NHS – the world’s 5th largest employer – over the next Parliament and beyond. In a previous DH role, I calculated and assessed the national Payment by Result tariffs; the mechanism by which the majority of NHS hospital funding is allocated. I have also held a stragtegic post in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), where I had responsibility for monitoring the resource burden of administering the welfare system.
Project Example: I’ll have the heart transplant to start with, please…
Ever had to pay a visit to A&E? Had your tonsils removed? Been admitted for surgery? Or just a quick X-Ray or outpatients appointment?
The NHS provides free access to healthcare for every single person in England (ok, so some of your taxes etc pay for it, but for the sake of argument…), but have you ever wondered how much it costs the hospital to remove your dodgy toenail, or how much it differs from that of replacing your grandad’s hip? Or who pays for it?
During my time in the Payment by Results (PbR) team, I was responsible for calculating a national tariff – essentially, a price list of all the different treatments and procedures you could possibly think of (and a few you probably wouldn’t want to!). By using nationally collected expenditure datasets, OR analysts are able to calculate average costs associated with each diagnostic, procedure and treatment available on the NHS. These price lists are then used by the Department of Health to calculate the amounts by which hospitals are reimbursed. Sounds simple enough? Not quite…
Before a new tariff could be published, I needed to assess the impact it would have on every NHS trust in England. This meant taking the previous year’s activity from each hospital and applying the new prices and assessing the amount by which it gained or lost as a result of pricing changes, and discussing potential revisions to the tariffs with colleagues in the Department, the NHS and beyond.
Working in PbR encouraged me to develop not only my technical OR skills (spreadsheet modelling, statistics, data mining etc), but also the wider interpersonal skills demanded of any Fast Streamer. I needed to be able to effectively communicate my work to technical and lamen customers at all levels of seniority, and influence their decisions to ensure hospitals were not put at financial risk by the publication of a new tariff.
If you would like to know more about the OR Fast Stream, please visit the Government Operational Research Service (GORS) website atwww.operational-research.gov.uk or get in touch at email@example.com.