People often ask me what I think makes a good NHS Leader.
There’s a huge amount of common ground between great leaders across all industries, in terms of the behaviour we would expect them to show and the commitment and drive to get their service right. I’ve seen incredible people with a clear vision who weren’t going to be daunted or distracted by the challenges they faced.
However I believe it’s definitely a tougher job in the public sector and the NHS. The NHS is incredibly complex and our leaders at all levels have to negotiate this. They also have to do it in the constant glare of the public eye. And, above all, in our industry, getting it wrong could, and does, cost lives. There are not many industries where life or death decisions are made on the scale of the NHS every single day. It’s an incredible challenge.
This is why it’s so important that we develop and embed a set of core standards specifically for individuals leading our health service. And this is where our national leadership development programmes will play a key role.
The NHS Leadership Academy is working with doctors, nurses, health professionals and managers at all levels from across the NHS to help them to improve their leadership behaviours and share good practice within and outside their organisations. One of our key objectives is to make sure everyone who’s in a leadership position in the NHS has been trained for that position, not just in terms of their own profession, but in terms of leadership. It’s a bold ambition, and one which will see us delivering the largest leadership training programme in the world, but it is one I believe we can achieve.
We’re building on some fantastic national work that we know works well. The award-winning Graduate Management Training Scheme, for example, is now part of the work the Academy, and will continue play an important role in the NHS vision to develop outstanding leadership in health. We will continue to offer trainees high quality work placements, education and support to ensure that the Scheme maintains its place as one of highest ranking graduate training schemes in the world.
The NHS Top Leaders programme for our senior leaders is now also part of the Academy, and will continue to develop and support our colleagues in these hugely complex and demanding roles.
Excitingly, we’re also about to go out to tender for a set of career matched, accredited programmes which will reach out across the NHS. Over time the intention is for these to lead to their being a core set of standards in every organisation which all our leaders would be expected to achieve.
At the same time we will continue to offer clinicians from across the NHS the support and development they need to take on the leadership challenges ahead. Our Clinical Leadership Fellowship programmes, for example, offer clinicians the opportunity to enhance their leadership skills through a structured nine-month programme of academic and experiential learning, grounded with a work-based service improvement project.