Meet the team – Alice Benton

Over the next few weeks we’ll be introducing you to our At Scale team. To kick start us off, meet the newest member of the At Scale team, Alice Benton.

How did you get into healthcare?

I have almost 18 years NHS commissioning experience, predominantly in primary care. So where did it start? I have a Masters in Human Geography from the University of Southampton – this is where my interest in health and health care started, the impact of place on health and how demography shapes the need that the health system must respond to.

So what tempted you to join the At Scale team?

I’ve joined At Scale as I am keen to work with a team of colleagues that I like and respect. I’m excited about what they have achieved so far and I’m looking forward to using the knowledge and experience I’ve gained in my NHS career to work with health providers and help them to prepare for the new challenges ahead.

The provider landscape is changing, and general practice is having to change quickly to keep up with the increasing demands. There is a need to integrate to ensure scarce resources are used efficiently, and with primary care at the centre, there is a need to get it into the strongest shape possible to enable effective integration. Resilience in general practice is achieved through collaboration and working at scale.

Helping practices to make the decisions to work together and to support them through that process is something I have had experience of as a commissioner and within the NHS. However, there is more work to do and more support that is required than can currently be provided. Approaching this work in a bespoke way for groups of practices and with the structure of the accelerator tools will give practices the additional capacity and support to make the changes they need in order to be fit for the future. The new challenge of getting Primary Care Networks up and running provides a new driver for this change and will mean that all practices are on a journey to collaboration – even if they weren’t quite ready yet!

On a personal level, I have just turned 40, have a 17 month old baby, and need a different pace for work. I have wanted to work in a different way for a long time and the opportunity to join At Scale was something that I couldn’t miss out on. It enables me to continue to work in the field that I have been specialising in for a long time but from a different vantage point. It also has scope to expand into other sectors which I will enjoy learning about and getting involved with.

Can you tell is a little bit about your experience working with Primary Care Networks (PCNs)?

My experience of working with PCNs to date has been all about “landing the PCN map”, being involved in the discussions with practices about how they are planning to configure their PCN, and liaising with the LMC in their driving of the local arrangements.

I have also been ensuring that system partners are engaged in the conversations and understand the criteria for PCN approval. It has been necessary to make sure that voting members of the Primary Care Commissioning Committee are briefed on the contract changes and are up to speed with the changing context in which contractual decisions will be made.

And finally, what are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about primary care and the role it plays at the forefront of the health service. While my wider experience is in general practice commissioning, my passion for strengthening and advocating for primary care extends across the four professions and to a future in which they will be more closely integrated. Continuing to work in an arena that develops and transforms primary care for the ever growing ask on it is something I am excited to be a part of.