Stepping Up

Stepping Up is a leadership development programme for aspiring black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) colleagues who work within health and care, specifically those working for the NHS or an organisation providing NHS care. It aims to create greater levels of sustainable inclusion by addressing the social, organisational and psychological barriers restricting BAME colleagues from progressing.

The Stepping Up programme is a part of the NHS Leadership Academy’s powerful commitment to positive action; to promote diversity and inclusion throughout health and care. The ultimate aim is to develop more inclusive leaders at all levels of the NHS. The programme not only helps participants prepare and develop for senior leadership roles within the NHS but also challenges the environments we work in to make transformational change.

Split into two cohort groups (one for band 5 and 6 and another for band 7 colleagues), the programme combines face to face, self-directed and workplace-based learning.

“It’s time for a paradigm shift to take place on inclusion; we want to move beyond quantitative responses and empower leaders to make different collective and individual choices in their leadership practice than they have in the past.

There’s a need for organisations to embrace the difficult conversations we all need to have; to make changes to the conversations we have in the future.”

Tracie Jolliff, Director of Inclusion


At the NHS Leadership Academy, we have some important and far reaching aspirations. We want to professionalise leadership in healthcare, provide the best possible personal and professional development to leaders and those who aspire to be leaders. To achieve these aspirations, we want to work with partners in health and care s with an outstanding commitment to both patient care and its delivery.

We have been working with partner organisations across various geographical systems, applying an innovative commissioned model to deliver exceptional first-time leader development. The commissioned model for the Stepping Up programme works to develop a partnership where the NHS Leadership Academy provides the highly successful Stepping Up programme, tailored to local system needs whilst maintaining the quality and impact consistent with the nationally-delivered programme. This is a programme where the learning isn’t separate; it has to be applied throughout for the benefit of staff engagement and patient care.


Delivering the commissioned model of the Stepping Up programme enables organisations and groups of organisations to deliver a high-quality, nationally recognised development programme on a regional basis. The programme is undertaken on in-place, utilising facilitators from the NHS Leadership Academy’s faculty. These expert facilitators who deliver on the programme are resourced from the same framework as those who deliver on the national programmes to ensure quality and consistency of facilitation is maintained.

The aims of the commissioned model are to:

  • Provide a positive action leadership development programme of exceptional quality, the design and deployment of which organisations would be unlikely to be able fund alone
  • Offer a programme which is delivered within a regional, systems or organisational context to a nationally recognised standard
  • Allow BAME colleagues working within a system (e.g. an ICS) to access this unique developmental opportunity

Benefits of the programme:

  • Positively impact on patient care by helping staff reach their full potential
  • Representing the population you serve to ensure the best patient care is being delivered at the front line
  • Unlock previously untapped creativity and productivity
  • Work at a faster pace towards the equality agenda
  • Provide the best environment in which BAME staff can thrive
  • Reduce attrition – there’s a national shortage of nurses, doctors, other medical professionals with a large proportion of these colleagues from BAME backgrounds
  • Inspire other BAME colleagues to progress into more senior roles

Benefits of the commissioned model:

  • Cost effective delivery
  • Improved access to the programme across the system/organisation/s – the national programme is hugely popular leading to a large oversubscription so places are not guaranteed
  • Opportunities to work with participants across a specific region or organisation/s to capitalise on the learning experience during and post-programme
  • Address potential issues around the support and development of BAME staff, or other areas of improvement that may be recommended by the organisation/s WRES reports