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NHS Leadership Academy

The National Health Service (NHS) employs a workforce of more than 1.6 million, placing it within the top five of the world’s largest workforces. In England, the NHS deals with over one million patients every 36 hours.

The organisation’s need

The NHS Leadership Academy was formed within the NHS to develop outstanding leadership. The Academy wished to develop a leadership programme for the NHS England during a time of organisational and structural change.  

The Open University’s solution

The Open University Business School, working with global consultancy organisation Hay Group, designed and delivered the largest part of the leadership programme in just eight months - a remarkable timeframe for an initiative of such scale and complexity.

The Mary Seacole (Leadership I) programme was a fully accredited 12-month national programme for both clinical and non-clinical staff preparing to step into their first leadership role. Initially, more than 1,500 participants enrolled in November 2013, and to date over 4,000 staff have studied the programme.

Organisational outcome

The programme became the largest ever leadership programme for the NHS England. The benefits of this programme are many:

The programme has a strong practical focus so that staff can apply their new-found knowledge instantly - bringing immediate benefits to the workplace.

Participants must complete a work-based service improvement project that directly applies to their role and department. This equates to several thousand improvement projects taking place throughout the organisation.

Time out of the workplace - along with associated travel and accommodation costs - is minimised, due to a large proportion of the programme being delivered online.

The programme encourages behavioural change and is in alignment with the aim for NHS patients to be treated in a culture of compassion.

The programme is fully accredited, leading to a Postgraduate Certificate and an NHS Leadership Academy Award in Healthcare Leadership. This has greatly enhanced engagement through providing additional value to learners.

The programme has given me a greater understanding of myself, my strengths and weaknesses and helped me identify the type of leader I want to be and to understand the skills needed to achieve this. It has broadened my outlook, increased my knowledge base and given me the confidence to apply for new posts. I definitely would not have been able to do this if it were not for Mary Seacole.

Debbie Harris, Ward Manager, Devon Partnership NHS Trust.

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