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Nearly a third of leadership trainees won top job within a year

Nearly a third of leadership trainees won top job within a year

Nearly a third of would-be leaders have been appointed as trust chief executives within a year of graduating from a leadership programme.
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Nearly a third of  would-be leaders have been appointed as trust chief executives within a year of graduating from a leadership programme.

The Aspiring chief executive programme was set up by NHS Providers, the NHS Academy and NHS Improvement to encourage more people to put themselves forward for the top jobs.

Nine of the 28 graduates have already been appointed to lead trusts.

NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson said other participants have been through the appointment process ‘where they have been judged  clearly appointable but have been pipped to the post. That’s a success in itself – we now have a bigger pool of credible provider chief executive candidates, giving provider boards a wider choice of  candidates than before.’

Previously some posts did not attract any appointable  candidates, he said.

He said the pipeline of candidates was narrowing and the increasing workload pressures  meant ‘we needed to provide a greater level of development support for new, first time, chief executives.’

Another trigger was the need to support  people taking over responsible posts.

‘We agreed that it was simply wrong and unacceptable, post dissolution of Strategic Health Authorities, for the NHS not to have a structured development programme for one of its most important senior leadership positions.

‘After all, the 233 trust chief executives are formally accountable for £70 billion of public expenditure, over 750,000 staff and a million patient interactions every 36 hours.’

Every participant has a staff and patient buddy to make sure their perspectives are central to the programme.

They are also involved in group learning with ‘a deliberate and challenging focus on getting the participants to reflect on what would personally make them an effective top leader of a complex organisation.’

Participant Silas Nicholls, who is  group deputy chief executive of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust said: ‘Overall for me the programme was tough, challenging, and at times made me feel downright uncomfortable. But through all of this I have experienced real learning, a growth in confidence and gained a network of friends and colleagues who will be with me throughout my career.

Suzanne Tracey, chief executive of the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust,  who was in the first group of 14  participants  said:  ‘The most important thing I took from my time on the programme is that is ok to be yourself and do things in your own style, rather than to attempt to fit a stereotype of what you think a chief executive should be.’

She took up the top job last year.

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