- Published: Wednesday, 29 January 2020 15:46
Building Leaders for the future of the NHS
In the last six months of 2019, our regular blogs focused on dealing with the challenges that leaders in the NHS are facing aside from their clinical responsibilities. Being a healthcare leader is incredibly challenging, not just because of the requirements of the day-to-day job but the changing context within and outside the NHS.
Understaffing and an increased demand for services coupled with a significant slowdown in funding growth and political uncertainty have piled the pressure onto healthcare leaders. In response, our 2019 content led with themes including adopting the new patient safety strategy; appraisal and revalidation; the establishment of PCNs, the need for resilience, self-care, and peer support; and providing support to those returning to practice after time out.
Leadership and the NHS long-term plan
The NHS long term plan acknowledges that the ability of the NHS to deliver high-quality care and meet the complex challenges it faces will depend on ‘great leadership’ at all levels of the health and care system. However, The King’s Fund reports that although “The vision is for leadership that is both compassionate and diverse” in some parts of the NHS, “it is ‘not yet commonplace’.”
The plan also says more will be done to develop cultures of compassion, inclusion and collaboration including: >“programmes and interventions to ensure a more diverse leadership cadre, a focus on increasing staff understanding of improvement knowledge and skills, and new pledges to better support senior leaders.”
New leadership skills
The establishment of Primary Care Networks (PCNs), which has been a focus of our content this year, is a perfect example of the need for contextualised leadership development. Within PCNs, leaders will need to be equipped to engage all practices and develop productive relationships within the PCN and with other parts of the health service.
In order to prepare for the growth PCNs, the NHS will need to appoint and develop leaders who have the skills to set the direction for the PCN and manage the many different aspects of the PCN’s functions. The Nuffield Trust has produced a document that explores the leadership capabilities required in PCNs; this model of leadership is very different and much more distributed than the traditional model for GP partners in local practices.
Dr Nick Merrifield, Clinical Director from New Malden and Worcester Park PCN tells of his experience of being part of a PCN:
‘We have been meeting as a group of six practices for about a year and I have been the Clinical Director of the newly formed PCN since July. It has been a real learning curve for me and has been an interesting journey so far. PCNs are in the tricky situation of being seen by the wider system of being a single organisation with one opinion, yet are actually joint ventures between practices who have their own opinions and priorities. These practices have of course co-existed for many decades so have historic allegiances and tensions which need to be understood. My role in this has been to understand the priories of the practices and to navigate a mutually agreed way through, while listening to all parties as they go at different speeds and focusing on the vision. It is only after this 'forming and storming' can PCNs can start to be considered as an effective organisation and my PCN is still on this path. I remain a PCN enthusiast because of the great team of GPs and Practice Managers and the wider partnerships we are building with the wider local system, many of whom are really keen to work collaboratively to get the best outcomes for our population.’
Developing people, improving care
Leaders who can create a positive workplace culture and provide the best environment they can for their teams will have positive outcomes for patient safety too. This is the thinking behind the NHS Leadership Academy’s leadership model which outlines the NHS’ nine dimensions of leadership behaviour.
In addition to the long-term training offered by the NHS Leadership Academy, Miad Healthcare offers a range of shorter courses the provide contextualised leadership development within the landscape of the changes happening in the NHS at the moment.
Supporting the NHS Leadership Academy
Our programmes help leaders to develop their personal resilience, and their influencing and communication skills within a healthcare context. We help leaders at all levels develop the skills of assertiveness, manage conflict and develop their own careers.
- For consultants: Develop an awareness of your organisation and the new strategies being adopted to deal with growing demands and increasingly complex patient needs. Become more influential in selling your ideas to colleagues, building your team and become aware of your own personal strengths.
- For Clinical Leads and Clinical Directors: Learn how to effectively direct, motivate and lead others. Develop excellent communication, planning, problem solving, and decision making and learn about setting high standards and clear boundaries.
- For higher trainees: Develop your leadership and management skills as you take on responsibility for team and project leadership in addition to clinical responsibilities.
Miad Healthcare’s trainers have both clinical and commercial backgrounds, providing them with a unique perspective on both leadership and the healthcare service. Our trainers’ backgrounds include occupational therapy within the NHS, training and management roles within NHS Trusts, and senior roles in clinical governance. Our trainers have contributed to NHS protocols and participated in independent review panels of behalf of the Health Service Ombudsman and so have an in-depth understanding of the challenges facing leaders in the sector.
Miad Healthcare’s courses are be offered at regional centres for individuals, or we can host courses for groups within NHS Trusts. Please contact us to find out more about our leadership development programmes.