There has been an emerging and growing aspiration for the NHS to adopt a more systematic and coordinated approach to managing its talent in light of the current economic and social context in which we now operate.
The Lord Rose and Ed Smith reviews identified the lack of a clear and visible pipeline of leaders, ready to take up our more senior roles and with the right type of leadership skills and behaviours for the new and changing environment that characterises the health and social care sector.
In response to this, the NHS set out to deliver a change to the way in which talent management is approached and practiced within the health and care service. The foundations have been laid through the creation of the national leadership development framework Developing People: Improving Care (DP:IC) which was published on 1 December 2016, which sets out five conditions for success. One of these is to equip leaders to develop high quality health and care systems in partnership, collaborating with partners across boundaries to achieve system goals. Another is to ensure compassionate, inclusive and effective leaders at all levels.
The Midlands and East Regional Talent Board was the the first of its kind in the country and aimed to bring these conditions to life. The board first met formally in March 2017, and subsequently developed Aspire Together’s programme of work. This has included factoring in sufficient opportunity for engagement and testing across the region. In May 2020 the board divided into two separate RTBs for the East of England and Midlands respectively in order to better address the specific needs of each region.
Nurturing talent goes to the heart of making sure the NHS develops the right leadership capability to serve future generations of patients and communities. It is also imperative to supporting NHS staff, ensuring they have the senior leadership they both need and deserve. Our vision is of an NHS workforce in which everyone has the opportunity to fulfil their potential. Our ambition for the first Regional Talent Board in England is that we can start to identify, develop, support and deploy leaders at all levels much more effectively. Aspire Together will help to deliver compassionate, inclusive leadership, which is key to a high quality and sustainable health and care system. While the board itself gives impetus to the work, Aspire Together is very much ‘by the region for the region’. Engagement is a huge part of our remit, and we will only get this kind of culture change right if we all work together in partnership. As we reflect on 70 years of our amazing NHS, it is also right that we look ahead to how we best ‘future-proof’ our leadership capability for generations to come. We look forward to working with you to make it happen.
What will success look like?
1) A culture of collaboration
A key aim of the Regional Talent Board is to create a culture where talent management is owned and valued by the whole system, and where NHS organisations are collaborating – rather than competing amongst themselves – for talent. This is a culture where staff at every level can see opportunities to fulfil their potential. We are working closely with trusts and CCGs across the region to make this happen.
2) Talent pool
We are starting with our senior leaders. We want to see a more systemised approach to how we nurture our existing and aspirant leaders within the system, sharing opportunities and talent between organisations. Selected individuals will have the opportunity to become part of a regional talent pool with rigour, consistency and transparency and diversity at its heart. This will give organisations a quality assured pool of candidates from which to select when appointing to board and governing body level posts.
3) Visibility of talent
Through the development of robust data, we want to be able to improve the ways we balance demand (immediate and predicted vacancies) and supply (the individuals available and their readiness to fill the post.) Once we understand the leadership potential that is already out there in the system, we can showcase this to organisations across the NHS, helping to keep hiring costs to a minimum.
Download the original Midlands and East vision for talent management (developed when the two boards were one)
Register for updates from the East of England Talent Board.
Find out more about the Regional Talent Boards.