Risk in focus: Pramjit Rai

The Institute of Risk Management (IRM) speaks to Pramjit Rai, Product Assurance Specialist (PAS), Clinical and Product Assurance (CaPA), Supply Chain Coordination Limited, Management Function of NHS Supply Chain on what working in risk is really like and what hints and tips they’d share with people looking to move into the industry.

How did you get your job?

I started working in NHS Complaints management supporting service users to make complaints about any poor service they had received from the NHS.  This was in line with formal NHS Complaints Regulation.  This then led onto a job in the NHS managing a complaints team and risk function.  The focus of this role was to manage risk in a clinical governance setting and lead on information governance and business continuity.  I then went onto be Head of Complaints in another organisation, but I was heavily involved in governance and audit processes.

In my current role at NHS Supply Chain, I am employed as a Product Assurance Specialist, basically I am part of team who ensure medical products are fit for purpose.  The approach we take is risk based and consideration is given to resilience and other issues that impact supply chain. So, doing the Supply Chain Risk Management will really help me to shape how we manage other supply chain issues that impact assurance.

What’s a typical day like as a Product Assurance Specialist?

Obviously it all starts with a coffee and if I’m lucky a croissant!  Checking through emails to see if anything urgent has come through.  I could have a meeting with the category tower to start of the assurance process, which is called the insight stage.  We work though a set of questions that cover procurement issues as well as safety and quality concerns.  If I pick up that there is a risk i.e., patient safety issue.  I will request that this is noted on the risk log and managed accordingly.  I may then speak to a colleague to go through the findings and prepare an action log. 

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy it all because it is so different and has many elements.  I can go from managing risk to looking at regulations and the impact on the organisation and then on to developing the team’s assurance process further.

What are the challenges?

Working as a supply chain can have many challenges but I think the main one for me is that when risks are identified through the assurance process that they are mitigated appropriately to avoid patient harm and continuity of supply.

What made you decide to study the Supply Chain Risk Management Certificate?

I have experience in risk management but didn’t fully appreciate the risk that supply chains can raise.  The assurance process is a risk-based approach, so I wanted to make sure that supply chain risk was also being taken into consideration and felt I needed to complete the certificate to gain that understanding.

What has it taught you that you can immediately put into practice?          

It has given me the confidence to merge assurance and supply chain risks to form a holistic approach to managing risk in my role and to think about black swan events.  Because up until Covid I don’t think we thought much about the other unknowns and how they could massively change the way we do things.

What would you say to other people considering studying the qualification?

It wasn’t the easiest thing to study because it is complex, but so are supply chains! I would encourage people to do because it gives you an insight into another realm of risk.

Top tips:

  • Get familiar with the NHS structure and procurement
  • Understand assurance and risk management
  • Understand patient safety and quality in the NHS.