Spotlight on Emma Ray

I have worked in Primary Care for 18 years, currently as executive manager for a large practice and chief executive of our federation.

24 January 2023

Tell us a little bit about yourself

Something I particularly enjoy about how primary care is evolving is the wider range of people I work with and how they offer me different lenses through which to look, all the better to understand and find solutions together. Like many of us I suspect, who have fingers in several pies, it is increasingly challenging to capture the different hats we wear when asked on a Teams call to briefly introduce ourselves…but I’ll give it a go. I have worked in Primary Care for 18 years, currently as executive manager for a large practice and have seen the practice through two mergers and two new builds. Alongside that I have been chief executive of our federation since 2016. We provide services to a population of 100,000 patients working across Canterbury, and since 2019, as network director I have supported the Canterbury Primary Care Networks. I sit on our place Health and Care Partnership Board, and work with others in subgroups such as ones progressing Integrated Neighbourhood Teams as a way of working. In East Kent, I also work with our primary care, place-wide confederation, which enables us to work at scale with place and system partners as well as collaboratively on health inequalities across east Kent.

When did you join NHS Confederation and why?

I first came across Confed in 2020 via the PCN Managers’ Forum where I received a warm welcome from the fabulous Karen Higgins and Ruth Rankine. We have monthly informal meetings, sometimes with someone presenting on a particular topic, but mostly it is a place to share questions and ideas. I felt inspired by so many people I got to know and we joined the Primary Care Network to continue to connect with a wider range of health and care professionals, learn about what has been successful in other areas and to bring that learning back into my local primary care neighbourhood and place. I love to see the bigger picture and as part of the Primary Care Network I became more aware of the full range of Confed networks from across the health and social care system and the opportunity that presents to learn but also to help influence a system that might actually work productively together. 

What excites you the most about the direction of the NHS Confederation, and how will you contribute towards it?

As we all move towards a more integrated way of working, we are all interacting more and more with people beyond our siloes and hearing their perspectives. I am naturally curious about what makes people think and act in the way they do and what is really exciting about Confed is their unique position in bringing together and representing the views and perspectives of the whole system rather than just a part of it.  The more we can understand the perspectives of system partners, the more likely we are to find a way to move forward together and provide truly joined up care for patients and populations. I also feel really positive about how, via Confed, I am able to provide insight and perspectives on the situation on the ground or latest initiative or get involved in working groups feeding into the Fuller Stocktake and the Hewitt Review, for example.

What does it mean to you to be a member of the Primary Care Network Advisory Group?

I joined the PCN Board – now the Primary Care Network Advisory Group- in the spring of 2021 and love the opportunity it has given me to connect with passionate and inspirational primary care colleagues from around the country, to share ideas, support each other and work together to influence the kind of health and social care system our populations deserve. At first it was pretty daunting being round such energy and talent but I don’t know how I’d manage without it now! I always come away from meetings with a new thought, idea or perspective, something we all need as leaders.

What is something members of the network, staff and even other Advisory Board members might be surprised to know about you?

My children are grown up now so when I’m not at work I can now indulge two of my passions, films and Formula One. I go to a film a week on average and love getting lost in the big screen images and stories, although nothing compares to the rising adrenaline I first felt at Spa in Belgium on the Kemmel Straight, with the rising roar of a Formula One car as it approaches from a distance…it’s never left me.

How would you fill an unexpected day off?

If I had an unexpected day off, after a really good lie in, I’d probably do something creative like some stained glass work and then go to a film or a live music gig.