Case study 2023: Charlotte Bright

Deputy Director for International Reciprocal Healthcare, DHSC

Charlotte Bright is Deputy Director for International Reciprocal Healthcare in the Global Health Group at the Department for Health and Social Care. Here she describes how the CSaP Fellowship gave her the opportunity to expand her policy toolkit and build a broader network of likeminded policy thinkers.

When an email was circulated around the Department of Health and Social Care promoting the opportunity to become a CSaP policy fellow, it immediately sparked my interest. I looked on the website and saw the vast array of outstanding policy makers that made up the CSaP alumni and could see the potential to tap into a fantastic policy community.

"The programme looked to be an ideal fit for what I wanted for my professional development – to engage with future thinkers, benefit from robust challenge of my work, expand my policy ‘toolkit’, and build a broader network of likeminded policy thinkers.”

I was somewhat apprehensive when I first turned up in Cambridge to an intensive programme of meetings with some of the most eminent experts in my field.

I shouldn’t have been. All the academics I spoke to were welcoming, constructive and reflective, whilst not holding back from the debate. Everyone was keen to learn about each other’s expertise and identify those nuggets of cross-over which sparked new thoughts and avenues to explore.

I have probed a range of themes, spanning from areas directly linked to my role, to broader trends, and methodological questions.

I have spoken to experts about international trade law; the impact of devolution and future of the Union; how to approach robust cross-government assessment of impact; and policy capability building – to name but a few. The breadth of knowledge and expertise that the CSaP team can tap into has resulted in a diverse programme, moulded to my evolving interests throughout.

Importantly, the Fellowship has not been solely about the intellectual debate, but also about active application.

I have gained huge benefit from the regular seminars, which draw Policy Fellows and alumni together with a range of academics and international policy makers. These have offered a forum to engage in some of the most pressing policy debates, hear contrary perspectives and consider how broader trends apply to my current work. For example, I went to a recent seminar at the Royal Society on digital poverty and was able to take some thoughts directly back to my team and engage them in thinking about how this would play out in our policy area. In addition, through one connection I am now arranging to visit a charity to hear first-hand about how international healthcare policy is impacting people day to day.

Overall, the Fellowship has given me the opportunity to carve out precious intellectual mind space.

Taking a short break from the day-to-day and being able to immerse myself in the programme has resulted in me getting excited all over again by the opportunities we, as policy makers, have for generating change and improving outcomes for people through our work.

I am not sure if my team love or hate it when I return from Cambridge with my new ‘long list’ of strategic projects to explore, but I am certainly reinvigorated and buoyed up with enthusiasm!