Even if she wanted to, Amanda Oates would find it hard to break her ties to Edge Hill University. As a local NHS HR Director, she is responsible for recruiting a large number of nursing and healthcare students, both for clinical placements and graduate jobs – and many of them come from Edge Hill.
Amanda didn’t go straight into the NHS after leaving Edge Hill. She initially secured a place on the Natwest graduate scheme, working in its Liverpool office, where she got her first glimpse into the world of HR.
“After the initial training and doing my banking exams, I became an HR Assistant, then PA to the HR Director, which gave me loads of experience and insights into what it was like to work at director level,” says Amanda. “It was a good foundation for my career.”
She eventually left Natwest to become Deputy Head of HR at Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital, and has stayed working for the NHS ever since.
“There is a big difference between working in HR in the public and private sectors,” says Amanda. “It’s not just about money, there’s a moral and ethical difference. Everything we do in the NHS – whatever position we’re in, whatever area of the organisation – is geared towards maintaining frontline care for those who need it.”
Previously Human Resources Director at the Walton Centre in Liverpool, the only specialist neurosciences NHS Trust in the UK, Amanda took up a new role in August as Director of Workforce at Mersey Care NHS Trust, a leading provider of mental health services. She is tasked with helping to improve the quality of services through engaging and empowering staff – no easy task given the current economic climate.
“The Trust’s aim is to provide the best in-patient and community services to help people recover from mental illness,” says Amanda, “ and informed, committed, caring staff are key to delivering that. It is challenging to try and reconcile increasing demand for services and rising patient expectations with cuts in funding. But there is lots we can do – and I enjoy a challenge.”
Despite graduating in 1992, Amanda still has strong connections to Edge Hill.
“We take a lot of Edge Hill students at the Walton Centre simply because the calibre is so high, and Mersey Care has very strong academic, health and social care links with the university too,” she says. “If the candidates weren’t strong enough, I wouldn’t give them an advantage just because they’re from my old university. The standard at Edge Hill is just very high.”
Amanda also worked with Edge Hill on a collaborative project to provide bespoke training and CPD courses for the Walton Centre’s clinicians and executive team, and is keen to use her HR knowledge to support the next generation of healthcare professionals.
“I’ve spoken to the careers team about how I could support graduates when applying for jobs, help lecturers with employability issues or give talks to students,” she says. “I’m delighted to still be involved with the University as an alumnus, as I received so much support myself when I was looking for jobs. The hints and tips I got from the careers team are still relevant to me today.”