It was a momentous week for us at the Academy last week. Our professional development programmes launched on Wednesday and I’m pleased to say the interest is already proving impressive.
The NHS has never done anything as courageous in leadership development as our programmes before – thousands of the best healthcare staff are set to complete them in the next three years. The work that has been going on to get to this point is both inspiring and exciting to us all – I’m both immensely proud of the effort and hopeful for the results it will bring for the future of healthcare in the UK.
The programmes have come at absolutely the right time – it was essential that we didn’t carry on the way we were, with the risk of doing nothing being far greater than taking this chance.
This has added a slight element of pressure – or even fear. Amidst the excitement of the week, I had a sobering conversation with a colleague in America who runs a $3bn hospital system and has made a huge investment in leadership development and who, after ten years, has only just started to see the turnaround in investments. It really brought it home to me that our programmes are the long term ambition for the NHS – we aren’t here for a quick fix.
Last week in a discussion with Academy staff, I described the process as ‘dropping a pebble in the pond of culture change.’ Whilst this is exactly what it is, and it is a huge pebble, how does this welcomed start become sustainable over a long period of time?
We’ve already had people wanting to pay directly for more spaces which is reassuring – but there are 1.5 million people working in the NHS and even more than that outside of direct NHS employment e.g. independent sectors, Public Health, Social Care etc – and reaching everyone is a huge challenge. We know that some organisations are already starting to align their work with our own approach which is fantastically encouraging and whilst I don’t fret about the consistent purpose felt by all, I do about the approach that we know will pay huge dividends over the longer term for individuals, our staff and of course our patients. I would be grateful for any views on how we could turn our commitment into a sustainable model of delivery.
Whilst our ultimate purpose is for ‘Better Leaders, Better Care, Brighter Future,’ – it is the ‘future’ element that will be on my mind from now on.