NHS England funds £2million to boost system-wide leadership development

NHS England has funded a £2million programme to help 23 areas kick-start or boost leadership development activities to support and inspire workforce in health systems across England from GPs, consultants and therapists to nurses, social workers and managers.

The programme builds on learning from five successful leadership models: Frimley Health and Care 2020 Programme, Surrey Heartlands Academy, Fylde Coast 100 Systems Leader Programme, North Cumbria and Leading Greater Manchester.

Their results have shown the importance of equipping individuals with the right skills necessary to drive change and identify new ways of working and collaborating with health, social care and third sector organisations.

The funding will support systems to develop locally tailored programmes, investing in both newly established and experienced leaders to increase their system leadership capability.

They can do this in a number of ways including: growing a cadre of system leaders who are delivering integrated care at the coal face, building a pipeline of future leaders through mechanisms such as talent management, getting more people into leadership learning courses at all levels in a system, and creating networks of people with interests in leadership development who can inspire others, share learning with peers and problem solve.

Dom Hardy, NHS England director of primary care and system transformation, said: “As set out in the Long Term Plan, we want to nurture the next generation of NHS leaders by more systematically identifying, developing and supporting those with the capability and ambition to reach the most senior levels of the service.

“The leadership development programmes are about getting people, from different parts of the health system, to work together and inspire the system-wide workforce to solve problems together as a team. We are seeing an enormous appetite across Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) and Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) to support staff at all levels with leadership and change capability and we are looking forward to building on this, and spreading the good practice as we move forward in delivery of the Long Term Plan ambitions.”

Across the NHS, 14 Integrated Care Systems (ICS) and Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships are seeing the NHS and local government work even more closely to join up care and support across general practices, community services, hospitals, councils, voluntary and community organisations and charities.

The Frimley Health and Care 2020 leadership development programme, launched in 2017, has already seen 100 leaders including GPs, consultants, therapists, nurses, social workers, managers as well as other public sectors like the police and army, join forces at a series of residential and day events.

Already, work from the leaders has led to a raft of innovations, including:

  • redesign of the low risk chest pain pathway for Frimley and Wexham hospital to improve care
  • delivering frailty education across the whole ICS
  • the development of a website for families with children suffering from ADHD/ASD symptoms
  • piloting improved access to primary care for people with additional communication needs and expand to others
  • introduce the Red Bag across the whole system

Fiona Edwards, Lead of Frimley Health and Care Integrated Care System, said: “Already we’ve seen how a collaborative effort of discovery, curiosity, innovation and commitment to a change challenge has reinvigorated professionals to see their potential roles in improving health outcomes. Being able to show what this change means for patients is the most important step and already we can see care improved, better educated professionals and new technology emerging from the leadership programme. But we’re also nurturing, inspiring and developing the NHS’ future leaders, many of whom will be part of this programme now.”

Surrey Heartlands Academy, is a virtual network that helps to support future leaders and train colleagues from across the system to find, adopt and spread innovation and best practice, by working beyond organisational boundaries.

It also aims to reduce unwarranted clinical variation so people in Surrey Heartlands can expect the same levels of high quality care and outcomes wherever they live.

So far partnership working in Surrey Heartlands integrated system and some of the academy’s work has led to many improved outcomes including:

  • a 24/7 advice line for pregnant women – helping to reduce still birth and perinatal death rates
  • a seven per cent decrease in GP referrals to outpatients across Guildford & Waverley through introduction of an ‘advice and guidance’ telephone service for GPs
  • a team dedicated to people over 65 helped avoid 3,600 unnecessary nights in hospital by seeing patients earlier at home and freed up around £4million to be reinvested.

The Academy has also been working with the Surrey Heartlands Workforce Action Board to develop a new system leadership programme.

The ‘Surrey 500’ launches this month, with the aim of providing leadership training for 500 staff across Surrey Heartlands.

North Cumbria Health and Care also has a well-established model which includes voluntary sector staff and care home providers. Greater Manchester has a programme to develop a strong community of capable leaders which has so far helped more than 500 people.

Cheshire Merseyside STP are also set to launch their academy in the next few months and there are plans for a national collaborative with a more strategic approach to sharing learning.