Doctors embrace leadership opportunity through bespoke learning

Lancaster University is supporting a Trust’s doctors to develop as leaders and influence improvement in the NHS through a unique bespoke collaborative approach.

The university is working in close partnership with the Medical Director and a cohort of 11 doctors from the Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, which provides mental health and wellbeing care for more than 1.5 million people.

Following close consultation with the Trust’s Medical Director, Lancaster University’s CETAD - Centre for Education, Training and Development -  established a highly-specific medical leadership framework that is deeply rooted in the Trust’s strategy and values and which required committed buy-in from the participating doctors and their colleagues.  

Jan Metcalfe, Director of Work Based Learning at CETAD said: “The Trust found that existing leadership frameworks were either not current or they were not stretching their consultants sufficiently to think about leadership and strategy in terms of  their role as doctors to improve the quality of patients’ experiences.

“Working closely with the Trust we have looked at doctors’ roles in shaping the provision of care, not only at the Trust, but throughout the patient care pathway. We have developed a bespoke medical leadership framework that builds on the Trust’s values and its strategic agenda to capture key medical leadership priorities for consultants working at Lancashire Care.”

Professor Max Marshall, Medical Director of Lancashire Care NHS Trust, said: “Lancashire Care is a Trust committed to improving patient experiences through innovation, improvement and partnership working.

Working closely with CETAD we have been able to clearly articulate the key leadership needs and aspirations for this Trust. The consultative approach has achieved engagement with the need for medical leadership development and as we move forward together I believe the programme will enable us to develop these key skills alongside other clinicians and managers to foster a collaborative team-based  approach.”

The approach adopted a strong work-based approach which ensures that the Trust’s services improve as the doctors develop.

“I was particularly keen to integrate work-based projects into the design of the programme as this will provide doctors with an opportunity to develop and practice their leadership skills as well as contribute to the Trust’s agenda for service improvement, integrated services and innovation,” said Professor Marshall.

“The development of the LCFT medical leadership competency framework and the postgraduate certificate in medical leadership means that the programme  provides opportunity to cultivate a culture of home-grown leadership talent. This will support succession planning for our most senior medical leadership posts within the Trust. The bespoke nature of the programme is a real advantage in this respect. This is a package of learning that is truly rooted in the values and strategy of the Trust.”

To participate in the programme, applicants had to demonstrate their existing commitment to developing themselves as leaders, show insight into improvement opportunities as well as devise a work-plan to show how they would be able to find time for the programme. It had to form part of their working life – rather than an add-on.

The current cohort of 11 doctors have each benchmarked their leadership development needs against the Trust’s leadership framework. They have identified an improvement project that will enable them to evidence their leadership, as well as work towards creating better services.

The approach, which was firmly rooted in research excellence at Lancaster University, also established a competency framework for the Trust’s HR processes.