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The actions speak for themselves

Mark Turner, Head of Portering & Security at Sunderland Royal Hospital with CHoICE, was shortlisted for the Individual Development Award in the 2018 HEFMA National Awards. HEFMA takes a closer look at the achievements behind this nomination.


Turner came to Sunderland Royal Hospital whilst still a full time student in 2002. He covered various portering and security shifts during his summer holiday while studying for a geography degree. 


He immediately demonstrated an unusual and exceptionally high degree of passion for helping to create the best environment and support for those in need of hospital care. He also showed a tremendous temperament and approach, which enabled him to immediately engage with his work colleagues - even those known for a very different approach. 


This natural ability to engage and communicate in the most appropriate and effective manner was noticed at an early stage by all who came into contact with him, and it was not long before many requests were accompanied by the phrase: "If Mark is available can you ask him to do the job?"


Turner also understood the importance of the team's contribution to the whole patient care experience very early in his portering life, recognising the patients' expectations as well as the perceived understanding of his work colleagues. This led to a personal mission in which Turner nurtured his colleagues, in his own subtle way, to engage in a different way with nursing and clinical colleagues who rely so heavily on a prompt and reliable service. 


His natural ability for this kind of working environment was something line managers did not want to lose, and they were fortunate that Turner also recognised that this was the type of work he enjoyed and saw as a challenge to develop. 


Despite being successful in his geography degree, Turner applied for a full-time post through the formal recruitment process and was appointed as a Band 1 Porter. He soon started to make further impact, with his astute ability to listen to his work colleagues, resulting in some key changes to work rotas and working patterns. He also contributed to other issues, such as Health & Safety and Security, and shared his enthusiasm and knowledge with other departments within Facilities. 


It was not long before Turner was asked to become involved in some capital projects, including the building of a new Outpatients department, and a full review of clinical and office accommodation. By this stage he was making such an impression in everything he did that when a Band 3 Supervisor's post became vacant he was encouraged by his colleagues and line manager to apply. He was successful, and used the added responsibility of this role to influence the future training and development of porters, while also recognising the crossover in roles and services within Facilities, particularly with his frontline work in Security and accommodation. He volunteered to engage in the work of the recently departed Accommodation Manager, to enable him to introduce some new ideas about managing the residential estate. It was not too long before Turner was formerly appointed to the higher band role of Accommodation Manager and soon after he identified further opportunities to integrate some key domestic services. 


Within five years Turner had progressed his career substantially, predominantly due to his significant contribution to the changes in approach and the development of several services within Facilities. He was also heavily involved in the transfer of the collection and distribution of medical records from Portering to Medical Records, to enable a seamless service. This work was recognised and he was appointed Medical Records Manager. While a loss to Portering & Security, Medical Records immediately started to reap the benefits, with visible changes and enhancements to the way records were managed. 


After a period of time, the long standing Head of Portering & Security decided to retire, and Turner was again successful in his application for the role. He quickly put his stamp on the services, again recognising the value of a more integrated service, with a more generic workforce. With his natural ability to engage people in change, he now oversees not only Portering & Security, but also Waste Management, Transport, and main Reception services. 


Turner led the transition of all these services from City Hospitals Sunderland to CHoICE Ltd including the creation of performance criteria and monthly reporting, as a now seasoned and experienced senior manager, hugely respected across the organisation, with most still remembering him as that young enthusiastic student, who would become the architect for many changes without losing the respect or popularity of those who work around him. 


As a young student in a strange town Turner had the self-confidence to act on his own belief with no obvious mentor - or even a familiar face - to blend with the hospital's team and start to influence the way jobs were done, encouraging different approaches. His reputation was built on action and providing the kind of service he believed was expected. He demonstrated tremendous strength of character to persuade, encourage, and influence colleagues with considerably more experience of the values of a different approach. 


All of the services under Turner's control have repeatedly exceeded all financial and other efficiency targets, although these have mainly gone under the radar due to his modest approach. 


Larry Stores, Head of Facilities, told HEFMA: “Mark was always mindful of the recognition of his efforts just by being nominated for the award. To be shortlisted was also a significant achievement, and Mark immediately acknowledged this was something he believed he would never have achieved without the dedicated team he has to support him.”