My job

60 Seconds with Department of Health professional adviser Ben Thomas

Ben Thomas loves visiting front line services and meeting brilliant and inspirational nurses working in mental health, learning disabilities and dementia care. 
Ben Thomas

Ben Thomas loves visiting front line services and meeting brilliant and inspirational nurses working in mental health, learning disabilities and dementia care.

Ben Thomas is the mental health, learning disabilities and dementia care professional officer at the Department of Health. He has held a number of senior clinical, academic and management appointments in England and Australia, and was a director of nursing for almost 15 years.

Before working at the Department of Health (DH), Ben was head of mental health and learning disabilities at the National Patient Safety Agency. He is a member of the RCNi editorial board.

What are your main work responsibilities?

To provide support and advice on matters relating to learning disabilities, mental health and dementia care to ministers, DH officials and other government departments.

I also provide national strategic leadership and direction for mental health and learning disability nurses,

...

Ben Thomas loves visiting front line services and meeting brilliant and inspirational nurses working in mental health, learning disabilities and dementia care. 

Ben Thomas is the mental health, learning disabilities and dementia care professional officer at the Department of Health. He has held a number of senior clinical, academic and management appointments in England and Australia, and was a director of nursing for almost 15 years. 

Before working at the Department of Health (DH), Ben was head of mental health and learning disabilities at the National Patient Safety Agency. He is a member of the RCNi editorial board. 

What are your main work responsibilities? 

To provide support and advice on matters relating to learning disabilities, mental health and dementia care to ministers, DH officials and other government departments.

I also provide national strategic leadership and direction for mental health and learning disability nurses, and those working in dementia care so they can deliver government policies and reforms – such as Improving the Physical Health of People with Mental Health Problems.

How did you get your job?  

I went on secondment to the professional leadership team at the DH almost eight years ago. When the job became permanent I applied for it.

Who are your clients/patients?

Ministers and government officials as well as patients, nurses and other staff working in health and social care.

What do you love about your job? 

Getting out and visiting front line services. I see some excellent care and meet brilliant nurses.

What do you find most difficult? 

Responding to urgent requests for briefings and responses to parliamentary questions, making sure I have all the facts and the advice I give is accurate. Working in a complex system means it can be hard sometimes to find all the information needed. 

What is your top priority at work?

These change frequently. At the moment, it is making sure everyone is aware of the value and the contribution mental health nurses can make in implementing the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health.

How have you developed your skills in this role? 

My mental health nurse training taught me communication skills, particularly active listening, which are important in this role. Tact and diplomacy has come with experience, but are useful when trying to be persuasive or communicating sensitive information. 

What has been your most formative career experience? 

I have been lucky enough to meet many inspiring people along the way and I continue to look for inspiration wherever I go and in whatever I do. I like learning from different experiences and perspectives.

What will be your next career move? 

I’m doing some interesting work with the World Health Organization looking at institutional care for people with disabilities across Europe. It is becoming clear there is a lot more work to do.

What career advice would you give your younger self? 

Be true to your values and be yourself. Leave self-doubt at the door. 


About the author

Ben Thomas

Ben Thomas is the mental health, learning disabilities and dementia care professional officer at the Department of Health

Want to read more?

Subscribe for unlimited access

Enjoy 1 month's access for £1 and get:

  • Full access to nursing standard.com and the Nursing Standard app
  • Monthly digital edition
  • RCNi Portfolio and interactive CPD quizzes
  • RCNi Learning with 200+ evidence-based modules
  • 10 articles a month from any other RCNi journal

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs