NHS England has funded a £2 million programme to help boost system-wide leadership development.

The programme is designed to help 23 areas kick-start or boost leadership development activities to support and inspire workforce in health systems across England from GPs, consultants and therapists to nurses, social workers and managers.

Building on learning from five successful leadership models: Frimley Health and Care 2020 Programme, Surrey Heartlands Academy, Fylde Coast 100 Systems Leader Programme, North Cumbria and Leading Greater Manchester, the funding will support systems to develop locally tailored programmes.

The plan intends to grow a cadre of system leaders who are delivering integrated care at the coal face, build a pipeline of future leaders through mechanisms such as talent management, getting more people into leadership learning courses at all levels in a system, and create networks of people with interests in leadership development who can inspire others, share learning with peers and problem solve.

The programme fits in with the NHS Long Term Plan, as it sets out to “nurture the next generation of NHS leaders by more systematically identifying, developing and supporting those with the capability and ambition to reach the most senior levels of the service”, according to Dom Hardy, NHS England director of primary care and system transformation.

He continued, “The leadership development programmes are about getting people, from different parts of the health system, to work together and inspire the system-wide workforce to solve problems together as a team. We are seeing an enormous appetite across Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) and Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) to support staff at all levels with leadership and change capability and we are looking forward to building on this, and spreading the good practice as we move forward in delivery of the Long Term Plan ambitions.”

Already, work from the leaders has led to a raft of innovations, including redesign of the low risk chest pain pathway for Frimley and Wexham hospital to improve care, delivering frailty education across the whole ICS and piloting improved access to primary care for people with additional communication needs and expand to others.