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Peter Blackman

In 2021, Peter Blackman (BA Philosophy, 1975) volunteered for the University’s virtual international programme TeamWork. Peter shares his story and experience of taking part in TeamWork.

Please give us an overview of your background and current role.

I started my career in banking in the graduate management programme at NatWest and worked my way up to management level. After 12 years, I became the first Director of the ME Association and then took up the role of Assistant Director at the British Bankers’ Association. I played a key role in a number of key strategic campaigns, including leading the first Climate Change seminar in the City of London. After seeing the best and worst of the banking industry, I set up my own management and consultancy business and have since collaborated with various organisations in the voluntary, commercial and public sectors on various projects and campaigns.

Why did you decide to volunteer for the TeamWork programme?
I enjoy working with students and sharing my knowledge with them. I believe that the next generation needs to have a breadth of ‘real-world’ experience, in addition to their academic education. I felt I could offer them guidance and an opportunity to gain skills, which will be essential when they graduate. I also saw the programme as an excellent opportunity to work with bright and talented students who could utilise their academic skills on two of my projects.

Can you tell us about the project/task you set your group of students?
As part of my collaboration with Mid & South Essex Clinical Commissioning Groups and the East of England Major Trauma Network, , I offered two teams the opportunity to tackle present challenges facing the NHS. One group undertook research into how the NHS can improve public and patient engagement – something fundamental to how local NHS services operate. The present proposals to reorganise the NHS and social care system say very little about how the new Integrated Care Systems will engage with their patients, service users and public.
The other group looked at rehabilitation services for patients who have suffered major trauma. There is a need for a gap analysis of the demand for and supply of rehabilitation for major trauma patients with the most complex neuro-muscular-skeletal injuries.

What were the outcomes of the project?
The teams produced excellent papers at the end of the programme. The team that looked into patient and public engagement set out a clear and concise history of patient engagement and offered a range of insightful conclusions and generic ways in which health and welfare providers need to include and be accountable to patients, service users and the public in effective and transparent ways.
The team tasked with researching rehabilitation services for major trauma patients explored ways in which a useful gap analysis of supply and demand could be undertaken in a very disjointed sector that is lacking common and coherent records across the country. They studied what specialist services major trauma patients required, but don’t always get due to a lack of specialist centres. As with many research projects, this first stage came to focus on clarifying the aims and methodology needed to complete the study.
Both papers produced solid foundations for further research on these topical NHS-related issues. Recognising that and wishing to continue working with Warwick, I am delighted to say that in 2022 a master’s student from Warwick Medical School will be undertaking further research into both subjects. This is a tribute to the excellent work the intern students started.

How did the students develop during the project?
I was very impressed with both teams, especially with their enthusiasm for the projects and the opportunity presented. All students approached the programme with energy and professionalism. Working across differing time zones with students they hadn’t previously met, and during a global pandemic, wasn’t an easy task, but all of them rose to the challenge and produced excellent reports. Over the course of the programme, it was clear the students improved their teamworking, leadership, research and communication skills. I hope they found the experience valuable and learned skills that will help in their future careers.
I have no hesitation in recommending the University of Warwick TeamWork Programme. I am extremely grateful to the students who undertook these studies, and to the organisers and administrators of the scheme.