Last Thursday I attended an excellent (and by that I mean “productive”) session in London around design principles in digital health and care services, led by work happening out of NHS Digital.

On the train back to Leeds I opened up Trello and looked down a list I had written just under 18 months ago, when I joined the then-NHS Beta programme. The list was of things I would have liked to see a happen, or at least some movement towards happening in my current gig.

I looked down the list and found the entry for “movement on shared design approaches”. It felt like there was movement at last on this. I clicked it. Trello struck it out. And I noted it was the last thing on the list.

At the end of this week I am leaving the NHS.UK programme. Choosing to leave has been the hardest decision I have made in my career.

There are still so many problems and challenges and things to make simpler, to make clearer, to make better that NHS Digital are involved with, and also across the wider public healthcare.

But it’s hard “leading by example from the trenches” as an interaction designer. I planned to stay for six months and get things moving. In staying 18 months I’ve stayed a year more than planned.

Like any job I have done the stuff I was asked to do. There’s some stuff I was asked to do I haven’t had the chance to do. I’ve done stuff I wasn’t expecting or asked to do. Whatever I have done – even when keeping seats warm and plugging gaps – I’ve given it everything, and am proud of the stuff I have done, and done with the people here.

The past few months I have frequently been saying “You’ve got this” more and more – and that’s a good thing. Things have moved on and continue to move on. And because of that I feel I have finished playing the role I was given. One of our design principles is “Get out of the way”. So I am. It is time to move on.

I am leaving a growing, energetic, curious, and talented design community. I am leaving teams that are getting on doing work by getting on together. I am leaving an organisation that feels like it wants to get on making things better. It isn’t easy, but there is movement, lots of it.

It would be amiss not to say thank you to Dan Sheldon, Nayeema Chowdhury, Alice Ainsworth, and Joe McGrath for luring me from HMRC in the first place, and to the NHS Beta team in Leeds I joined - Joe, Dominic Hamilton, Steve Hunt, Neil McLaughlin, and Ian Franklin – and the then-team in London – especially Mat Johnson and Matt Harrington – for being so welcoming. It seems a long, long time ago now. Since then I have worked with some genuinely good people, good on every level.

I still stand by what I said when I joined: There is no greater mission to be involved with in the United Kingdom, maybe the world at the moment. I will always have one eye on what is going on here. I am proud and chuffed to have worked on stuff that matters at this level, and would only leave for something that will push me further.

Next for me, I am off to DWP. I am really excited about the challenges ahead. I’ll write more once I am there.

So, if you are a designer wanting to work on people centred problems, NHS Digital is looking for people like you. Talk to NHS Digital’s head of design, Matt Edgar. Be a part of making public healthcare simpler, clearer – and ultimately better. I was.

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