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Long term plan: what it means for leadership development


By Valeria Fiore
Reporter
10 January 2019

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Earlier this week, NHS England published its long term plan, revealing how the health service will develop over the next 10 years.

The plan includes a greater focus on prevention, workforce and technology, among other elements.

In order to help healthcare leaders deliver on the plan’s key tenets, NHS England has promised new measures to boost and strengthen leadership at all levels.

Improved support for senior leaders

NHS England pledged to better support senior leaders, especially when they take on the most challenging roles.

Retention is a key concern for the NHS at the moment, including at leadership level. According to research published by The King’s Fund and NHS Providers last year, 37% of 145 trusts interviewed reported at least one vacant post for an executive director position, with ‘inadequate’ trusts suffering the highest turnover levels.

NHS England said in the long term plan that, together with NHS Improvement, they will introduce a new NHS leadership code.

This will be designed to make it clear to leaders which behaviours the NHS expects to see from them and what the cultural values of the NHS are, as well as help drive aligned and consistent actions from the top.

This falls within NHS England’s intention to develop cultures of compassion and inclusion at every level in the NHS.

Compassion, inclusion and collaboration

NHS England aims for all health service bodies to create an ‘inclusive and just culture’, to boost staff engagement and improve patient care.

Support in this area will be provided through a programme designed to encourage a more diverse and inclusive team and through the provision of leadership development for all NHS staff.

NHS England has also renewed its commitment to the Workforce Race Equality Standard, by investing an extra £1m a year as part of the long term plan to extend its work to 2025. It is asking organisations to set their own targets for BAME representation in a bid to ensure that senior teams and board will be more diverse.

Future leaders

NHS England has plans in place to feed the NHS leadership pipeline by identify those with leadership attributes and developing them the future leaders.

NHS England has said it will:

  • Introduce a ‘regional and local approach’ from early 2019 to find and deploy new talent
  • Implement measures to help more senior clinicians step into leadership roles – currently, only one third of NHS trust chief executives have a clinical qualification
  • Increase places on the NHS graduate management training scheme
  • Consider the introduction of ‘a professional registration scheme for senior NHS leaders, similar to those used in other sectors of the economy and amongst other NHS professionals’
  • Ease the transition from other sectors into NHS leadership roles

Digital leadership

In line with plans for the NHS to offer a ‘digital first option for most’, NHS England has decided to better equip leaders with the expertise they will need to face future challenges.

The NHS Digital Academy programme – a postgraduate diploma in digital health leadership – will be expanded and NHS England expects that within the next five years, NHS boards will also include informatics leadership representation.

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