An eye opening experience

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RAHILAH BUKHARI: “There are so many different careers that you can take with the NHS. There are so many face to face roles but also crucial background roles. If you’re looking for work-life balance, you can find that with the NHS. Most importantly, there is ample opportunity to progress both personally and professionally – the NHS offers it all.”

When the UK first went into lockdown in March 2020, Rahilah Bukhari had recently started her new role as Orthoptic Casualty Lead at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust.

When the pandemic hit, the entire Eye Casualty Service at University Hospital in Coventry had to quickly adapt and swiftly move to a telephone triage service; reducing the number of people needing to come into hospital and enabling youngsters to be directed immediately into the paediatric eye emergency service should they need to be seen face to face.

The move was a great success; so much so that it recently won Rahilah Allied Health Professional of the Year at the Chief Allied Health Professions Officer Awards, where she and her team received recognition in the Workforce Transformation Award category. “It came as a complete shock, but I was thrilled at the same time,” says Rahilah. “I am very proud, not just for myself but for the whole Ophthalmology team.”

Rahilah works as part of a multi-disciplinary team alongside ophthalmologists, optometrists, nurses, ophthalmic technicians, and administration staff.

The Paediatric Eye Emergency Service sees all children aged 16 and under; attending eye casualty, completing all necessary investigations, and liaising with the Senior Eye Casualty Doctor to determine the treatment and clinical outcome for the patient.

As the lead for the service, Rahilah is responsible for managing urgent referrals, as well as managing and supporting staff. Orthoptists are experts in diagnosing and treating defects in eye movements and problems with how the eyes work together.

For Rahilah, the best aspect of her role is the clinical outpatient contact she has. “There is nothing more rewarding than getting a high five from a little person after they’ve had a good experience,” she says. Rahilah also has three children of her own, and with limited shift work and only occasional weekend work, she can make the most of quality time with her family. “Having a good work-life balance means that I can always be there for my girls – my work allows me the flexibility to do that,” says Rahilah.

Although she began her new role only 18 months ago, Rahilah had been with UHCW NHS Trust for a significant period prior to that. “I’ve been with the NHS for almost 18 years now!” she exclaims, “It’s been an eye-opening experience for sure.”

Rahilah Bukhari, Orthoptic Casualty Lead

During this time, Rahilah has had opportunities to develop within her role and gained a funded Masters in Health Service Management, which she completed part-time through distance learning allowing her to balance work, study, and family life. This gave her a real insight into how the NHS works and the different ways she can help to deliver high-quality patient care.

With an interest in operational management and strategic development – and plenty of internal support to achieve what she wants from her career – Rahilah has a clear idea of her future within the NHS.

“There are so many different careers that you can take with the NHS. There are so many face to face roles but also crucial background roles. If you’re looking for work-life balance, you can find that with the NHS. Most importantly, there is ample opportunity to progress both personally and professionally – the NHS offers it all.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown, now more than ever, that the future of England’s health and social care system relies on its people. Now in its fourth year, the ‘We are the NHS’ campaign is back to champion the extraordinary work of nurses, AHPs, and healthcare support workers to inspire a new cohort to consider a career in the health service and be part of the NHS’s future.

To find out more about the range of roles available, please search NHS Careers.