Victoria Stevens and Matthew Sandys

Hello! We are Matt and Victoria, NHS Grads taking part in the Flexi placement section of the NHS’s Graduate Management Training Scheme (or GMTS for short!) here at PPL.

GMTS is a two-year scheme with opportunities to get on-the-job training, post-graduate qualifications, early leadership responsibility and a strong support network. The Flexi is a 2-month placement in the middle of the scheme between the other, more extended placements, and you can do it (almost) anywhere. The idea is to get a broader range of experience than you would exclusively in the NHS, which can then be taken back to help you develop your career within the NHS. We wanted to share with you what we’ve been up to at PPL and what we’ll take back with us into the NHS.

Before we started at PPL…

Matt: I’m taking part in the Health Informatics stream of GMTS. For my first placement, I worked in digital delivery in a Mental Health Trust, working to improve care with new technology.

Victoria: I am part of the General Management scheme of GMTS. My first placement was in the NHS Continuing Healthcare (CHC) team, providing project management support as part of the overall transformation programme in Hampshire Integrated Care System.


During our two months at PPL, we got stuck into several exciting projects, such as the Festival of Integration (pictured below) at Londons Guildhall, where we facilitated breakout rooms that hosted discussions ranging from dealing with winter pressures through to how to best set up integrated neighbourhood teams. One of the most interesting aspects was seeing how many of the answers to the problems facing healthcare already exist, but need implementing on a wider scale to be truly effective. We also joined in with all things PPL, delivering a lunch and learn session for the team about the emergency services and attending social events and How We Learn training sessions. It felt like we were part of PPL from day one!

Adam, Victoria, Ru, Kiri, Dave, Soyan and Matt at the In Place Festival of Integration event at London’s Guildhall on Tuesday 11th October 22.

We worked on an Integrated Discharge Hub evaluation to assess investment value from a health perspective by reviewing the benefits to patient flow and patient choice.

Matt: At PPL I worked mainly on a project to address mental health inequalities within an Integrated Care System. It was incredibly interesting, particularly seeing the complexity and power of working at a system level compared to a Trust level. There are so many stakeholders to manage and align, but at the same time, when change does occur, it can have a substantial positive impact.

Victoria: I worked on supporting a local strategic care partnership programme as it moves into a new phase of development. I enjoyed the in-person workshops and have seen how important it is that teams and leaders are empowered with the space, tools and shared understanding that enables successful partnership working.

The focus of of all these projects is improved outcomes for patients, the community and the workforce, with has a significant impact on the health and care system.

At PPL what stood out to us was…

We think the most significant difference coming from the NHS was working in a small company. Compared to even a single NHS Trust where there can be thousands of people, working in a team of 30 was a complete culture shock. It’s one we enjoyed, though. The extra energy from being in a tight-knit group and working together, bouncing ideas off each other in the office, and the sense of community this engenders was fantastic and brought the best out in our work.

Another highlight was PPL’s meaningful social impact, particularly in the local community. It is excellent that PPL supports volunteering days and re-invests over half of the annual profits in furthering the mission to promote better health, well-being and economic success across the UK. We enjoyed interviewing the charities PPL helped last year to see how they were doing and get an idea of PPL’s impact. It would be fantastic if more companies were social enterprises!

What we’ve learned…

Matt: My biggest takeaway from PPL has been (in a somewhat cliched fashion) how essential people, relationships, and soft skills are in improving the NHS. For all the amazing equipment, analysis and skills that there are, the most progress has come from effective people management and getting the right people in the right place at the right time. Seeing this first hand has been a real privilege. On top of this, I’ve got a lot better at time management. Working in an environment where every hour is accounted for has made me really focus on prioritisation and thinking about what I’m doing and why, something that will be invaluable to take back.

Matt and Victoria presenting during the lunch and learn session on Friday 7th October to PPL team on Insights into the ambulance service.

Victoria: Whilst at PPL, I have learnt how important quality is in everything, from the quality of verbal communication (practising in the lunch and learn session pictured above) to PowerPoint slides to client workshops. High quality of thought and insight goes into everything everyone in the team does. I particularly enjoyed working with the Communications team and thinking carefully about the purpose of the communication. I also learnt time management skills and the consultancy process. It was helpful to look at the NHS through a different lens.

It was a privilege to work with the passionate PPL team. A big thank you to everyone for your patience, kindness, teaching, and enthusiasm. Particular thanks to Iyoni, Pippa, Victoria Stanway, Reda, Mark, Ru, Laura and Dave for your support.

Team photograph from the PPL social night on Wednesday 14th September 2022 in new Mill Street Office.

Many thanks, Victoria and Matt