Interview: Amy Buxton-Jennings, Director of Children's Integrated Commissioning Services
Amy took up her position as Director of Children’s Integrated Commissioning Services of NHS Lambeth CCG and Lambeth Council in November. She joins us after a career developing and implementing policy and programmes for children and families in central and local government. Starting on a Civil Service graduate programme at the Department of Education in 2001 and going on to senior roles in Newham and Waltham Forest Councils, she has seen first-hand the impact that effective multi-agency early intervention can have on children’s lives and life chances.
“I’m glad to have a joint role that brings together the work of the local authority and NHS,” says Amy. “It’s a chance to take a whole system approach to improving outcomes for children which is particularly important given current budget constraints.”
Enabling the community to better support children and young people is high on Amy’s agenda. “Nine tenths of the time, it’s the quality of relationships that children and young people form that makes the most difference to their development. We need to help build and sustain those relationships and that means working both with families and the wider community.”
“We need to build a common understanding within the community about how to develop the skills and capabilities children need to navigate the complexities of modern life. That means linking with all the places where we are in touch with children – schools, children’s centres, GP practices and through public health campaigns.”
Amy cites the Young Foundation report on outcomes for young people as a good starting point for building that understanding. It identifies six social and emotional capabilities, e.g. confidence and agency, planning and problem solving, that help children and young people to achieve good outcomes in their lives.
Working with Dr Nandini Mukhopadhyay, the Clinical Lead for Children and Young People, Amy is keen to draw on a wider range of clinical input to children’s integrated commissioning, including through emerging Local Care Networks and on specific programmes such as CAMHS transformation. “To generate wider system change we need more engagement with members and more workforce development. That means explaining ideas to clinicians but also listening to them so we understand children’s and young people’s experiences – GPs have that day-to-day first hand contact which is extremely valuable.”
In her role Amy initially aims to focus on the three main commissioning programmes - Lambeth Early Action Partnership, CAMHS transformation and the Children and Young People’s Health Partnership (which is focused on the relationship between primary and secondary care). She will be reviewing the programmes, giving them, as she describes “their own health check”. This is to ensure that the CCG is clear on objectives, the delivery plan and how we measure impact. Amy will also play a key role in working with Lambeth Council’s Children’s Services as it works through its improvement plan, following the ‘inadequate’ rating given by Ofsted.
“I’m excited to be working in Lambeth, as a born and bred south Londoner,” says Amy. “It’s an honour to work with and on behalf of people I’ve grown up with. It means more to me because I have that connection. I believe we all have a responsibility to do everything in our power to promote the wellbeing of children and young people in our borough, particularly the most vulnerable.