Leading through the challenges ahead

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The challenges being faced by the health system cannot be underestimated. From the wider financial and quality challenge to the changes taking place under the NHS reforms, these are uncertain times for many.

And uncertainty can be unsettling. For Primary Care Trust and Strategic Health Authority staff, along with many others in different organisations across the country – including many here at the Academy –  their futures are still far from resolved. It’s difficult to retain an unwavering focus on improving patient care and outcomes when there is such uncertainty about where your own future may lie; indeed if your future lies in the NHS at all.

So I was hugely impressed with a group of people I met earlier this week who are in that exact situation.

They are the people from around the country who have led on leadership development in their own Strategic Health Authorities. For thousands of NHS staff these people are the face of leadership development in their region. They’re people who have worked tirelessly to develop, support and encourage outstanding leadership. They have built networks and memberships to make this happen. They have listened to their local and regional NHS staff and designed programmes and support to help them do their jobs better, for the benefit of patients.

And, despite every one of them being uncertain about their own personal future, everyone was dedicated to maintaining the focus on leadership because they know, as we do at the Academy, that it’s at the heart of building an NHS fit for the future. They will use their own leadership skills to help overcome the challenges and make this a success.

At the Academy we want to make this strength and resilience which comes with outstanding leadership something which benefits many, many more people across the health system – and all of our patients and service users.

This is a huge task. As well as building on some outstanding national initiatives we know work already, such as the multi-award winning NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme; the Academy will also lead the development and delivery of what will eventually become the largest leadership development programme in the world.

This is a challenging future, but with the colleagues I had the privilege to meet this week, I know we can move forward with confidence. This can’t be a one way process. There is too much at stake. We need to get this right.

In summary, our ambition is to see local services continue to thrive, led by colleagues already equipped with the strength that local knowledge brings, and enhanced by a consistent set of leadership behaviours that will see them and their teams help the health system deliver even better patient outcomes.