NHS Leadership Academy

Following the Health minister Andrew Lansley's announcement for plans to open a training academy in July last year, the NHS has launched a Leadership Academy based in Leeds.

The Academy is a direct response to the proposed new health reforms. It is hoped that the Academy will help to develop leadership skills and practices. It should therefore help the NHS to be better equipped for future changes in the demand for its services as a result of the reforms. The Health Bill proposes to put power into the hands of General Practitioners. In April next year the control of about £60 billion of the NHS budget in England is due to pass to GP-led groups that will plan and buy most routine healthcare for their local community.

Clinicians of different skills are involved in the Academy to ensure that the skills are spread throughout the organisation. NHS Chief Executive Sir David Nicholson said “we face huge challenges across the world of health, social care and public health. Our leaders must be better equipped and more innovative than ever before. Vitally, they must be able to work in an integrated way across health and social care, to make sure people have a consistently good experience of our services. He continued, by explaining the affect the Academy would have saying that “great leaders create working climates where people working with them feel engaged, empowered and satisfied. Those people in turn have a direct positive impact on patients’ experiences and their health outcomes.” The Academy's website acknowledges the need for strong leadership now more than ever saying “good leaders must work even harder to keep staff engaged and satisfied in times of major change – so developing outstanding leadership in health has never been more important than now.”

The Academy will be a great way to help ensure that the NHS is continually improving itself and therefore remaining competitive against private suppliers of health care. There is no level at which someone cannot learn anything new and the Academy will be used by all levels of employee and throughout all the differing roles that make up the service provided. This is the best way to ensure that a shared standard permeates the culture of the entire organisation, regardless of who the employee is and the length of time or experience gained working with the NHS.

Jim Easton, Director of Transformation for the NHS Commissioning Board, referred to the changes that are likely to occur over the coming years and explained his belief that it is only through effective leadership that the NHS would be in a position to tackle such fundamental changes. These changes will require strong leadership and confidence in one's leadership decisions also. NHS Confederation Chief Executive Mike Farrar added that “If we want the service to be the best it can be for patients, it is essential we provide senior leaders with the appropriate forum to come together and use their knowledge and skills to tackle the big issues.”

The Academy will concentrate on four main areas, namely: developing the NHS approach to leadership; 
providing and commissioning national training programmes; supporting the development of local leadership capability; and supporting change and development in the NHS.

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