Information technology infrastructure support, Berkshire Shared Services

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“To work here you need good IT ability and excellent communication skills. You also need to be to be patient and tolerant and able to deal with stress.”

What do you do?

I work in the IT department of our local NHS Trust, supporting and maintaining the computer systems (internal and external communication networks, hardware and software facilities) for over 40 healthcare sites in the region. I manage the team manning the service desk. The first thing people do when they hit a computer problem is to call us. We do a pretty important and responsible job here; in hospitals computers play a huge part in supporting patient care: they facilitate communications between departments, they store important health records and computers are now often directly connected to life saving medical machines such as ECG heart monitors.

What is your typical day?

When a call comes in, we try first to solve the problem over the phone. Our team has plenty of knowledge and experience plus a library of help information at hand. If we can't solve things there and then, I arrange for a desktop engineer go out to the site. Finally, if it is a really complicated problem I might need to send in a systems engineer.

I'd say that 25% of our calls are password related 'entry problems'. We have lots of complex interlocking systems, each with their own passwords; they often get lost or forgotten. We also get a lot of 'interaction problems': 'How do I do this or that..?' and a few desperate voices saying 'I've lost my file - where has it gone!?' The rest of our enquiries are more tricky, often to do with power 'outages' or networking difficulties. One person rang to ask how to play music on his system. We finally worked out that he was using his CD input tray as a coffee cup holder!

The job can be stressful at times; we have an illuminated board on the wall showing the number of clients waiting to be dealt with. As manager I get called in to deal with the more difficult technical problems and, quite often, the more difficult clients. You need a good, calm phone manner to deal with anxious, frustrated people who have important jobs to be done. It's great when you can help them get back on track.