We are here to help provide the very best care to patients, carers and communities. While the Academy doesn’t provide direct services for these end users, we work directly with thousands of staff that do. So our work supports and enables them to lead with the compassion and skill that the public expects.

How we work with the people that matter most

The better we understand our patients, the better the NHS works for them. That’s how we know that everything we do for our leaders is for a reason. Without being close to the beneficiaries, our leaders can’t do their jobs. And the same is true of the Academy. So, we work with patients, carers and communities in six key ways.

To agree what we do

  • Involving patients and the public in our strategy development, as part of a wider consultation exercise.


  • All staff experience frontline NHS services as part of their personal development during a one-week shadowing programme at a local hospital, to help them connect with our purpose with real meaning.
  • We hold focus groups once a year with patients and carers to explore their experiences of leadership in the NHS through the healthcare system which, in turn, informs our business planning.


  • We meet regularly with colleagues at National Voices, the Centre for Patient Leadership and NHS England to ensure we are listening and responding to their feedback on planning, design and delivery.

To design what we do

  • Our design processes start with patient stories and we encourage those leading the design to bring in photos of loved ones who have or who are experiencing NHS care. This helps to keep us grounded in purpose during design processes by asking, ‘what difference would this make to my loved one?’


  • Two of our professional leadership programmes – Nye Bevan and Elizabeth Garrett Anderson – were co-created with National Voices to ensure a deep focus on the patient experience that challenges our participants at every stage and improves their ability to deliver care to those we serve.
  • The Edward Jenner and Mary Seacole programmes also had patient involvement in their design.


  • We invited National Voices to help design our nursing programmes, shaped by public and patient views of the perfect frontline leader.


  • Patients and service users were invited to join the design process to develop the new Healthcare Leadership Model to discover the difference leadership can make to exemplary patient care.

To deliver our work

As part of the Nye Bevan programme, patients, carers and staff are invited to talk about their positive or negative experiences with participants. With facilitation, these stories then become discussion areas for the patients and participants during their experiential learning.

Across the professional leadership programmes, participants are also encouraged to draw on their own experience as service users.

Patients and carers are involved in the graduate management training scheme events to help their ongoing learning:


  • patients, carers and their families are invited to talk about their experiences at the graduates’ welcome event;


  • each experiential learning component has elements that address the emotive side of providing care.

Patients and carers are also involved in the Director programme (formerly Top Leaders):


  • experiences are shared in person, by video or in written format as part of the experiential learning;


  • they are involved in the patient panel on our aspiring chief executive assessment centre, where candidates are tested for readiness. The patients assess the candidate presentations (against a competency model), ask the candidates questions and discuss how well they thought they did.

To evaluate our work

  • Evaluation of our nursing programmes involved the view of patients about the impact on the services they use.


  • Our work with the Trust Development Authority (TDA) highlights our core belief that, if development isn’t about the patient and quality of care it doesn’t have a place: “…really good, very practical feedback that puts the patient at the heart”.

To get feedback on social media

From Facebook to Twitter, we’re embracing social media more and more. It’s invaluable when it comes to real time feedback about the design and delivery of our work – and it gives us the chance to have open and transparent dialogues with our service users.


It also helps us to keep track of current and recurring healthcare issues, which we use to further explore leadership.
In fact, many real life partnerships have evolved from online interactions, so we’re actively encouraging patient and public involvement.

To learn for the future

Although we’ve made a good start, we still have a long way to go to realise our vision of truly having patients, carers and communities involved in everything we do.


We are constantly seeking feedback on what we could do differently and better and are working on ways to use social media, our website and other communication routes to make this even easier.