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Mike Jennings

mike

Mike is the Trust’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and is the Senior Responsible Officer (SRO) for its five vaccination centres, located in Brighton, Crawley, Eastbourne, Chichester and Etchingham, the latter a partnership with GPs. Mike is also a member of the programme board for the entire Sussex vaccination programme. 

“I got involved in early November,” he says. “Being SRO is a very operational role, like being a mini-chief operating officer for the vaccination service. But because it is so new, you are setting up a new service from scratch. It is not like taking on a service that already existed or even setting up a service for which a blueprint exists.” 

Mike’s herculean task included creating operating procedures and recruiting staff. 

“We were clear we did not want to do this by depleting our core services, which were just starting to recover,” he says. “This has meant employing hundreds of new staff, supplemented by Trust staff putting in extra shifts. There has also been some secondment of back office staff. 

“We’ve recruited 1,000 staff [as of the third week of February]’ Mike reveals. “So we’ve effectively built a small trust just to do vaccination using a mix of fixed-term contracts and arrangements by which people are called on when needed. 

“Identifying sites and getting them up and running quickly was also a key challenge – often having only a few weeks to kit them out, get the digital [services] done, signing off everything you need for a building,” he says. “But staff has been the big issue, ensuring we have a fully staffed rota has been a challenge all the way through and is probably still our main issue.” 

Mike’s SRO role is very hands-on, requiring him to find immediate solutions to a constant stream of problems. These include ensuring vaccines are moved around the system quickly to ensure all supplies are used within a given timescale, and setting up mutual aid staffing arrangements between centres to ensure rotas are filled. 

“As a finance director I’ve been involved in lots of things I wouldn’t normally see and that has been great,” he says. “And there have been really tangible and immediate results, which as a CFO you don’t always get. So although it has been tiring, there is a great sense of positivity and achievement that you take from it.” 

Mike’s SRO role is likely to continue until at least the autumn, although some of the duties initially associated with the role will be shared more widely, allowing him to devote more time to his other responsibilities.