The government will spend £10m on its programme to boost failing hospitals’ management by drafting in new leaders who receive training in America, it has emerged.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced earlier this month he wanted to introduce managers from outside the service on a new fast-track programme.

The programme will be open to senior NHS clinicians as well as managers from outside the health service.

HSJ has learned the scheme will begin in spring 2014 and involve approximately 50 people a year.

They are all due to attend the Harvard Kennedy School, a leading business school in the USA, for eight weeks.

Those on the course will receive three months of executive education, including an intensive induction into the NHS for external entrants and an introduction to business management for clinical entrants.

They will also undertake six months at a “top NHS trust” and a one month industry placement.

About 40 of the participants will be clinicians, and 10 will be applicants from outside the health service. After completing the 10-month course they will be assigned a role and are expected to be “rapidly promoted” into senior management and chief executive roles.

The Harvard Kennedy School boasts on its website: “Our students are prepared and trained to lead, no matter whether in the private, public or non-profit sector.”

The Department of Health has said it will pay the salaries of NHS clinicians while they are on course.

For those joining from outside the NHS, the DH has not committed to matching their previous salary, but will pay them what it described as a “salary subsidy”.

Speaking to HSJ after the launch of the scheme, Jeremy Hunt admitted it would be an “expensive programme” due to the cost of “back filling” salaries.

However, he said: “We need more good managers in the NHS and the evidence from around the world says the best managers are often doctors and nurses.”

A Department of Health spokesman said details about the programme were still being developed, but it was expected that existing NHS chief executives would encourage staff to apply.

The spokesman added: “We expect people from the private sector to come to us. These are likely to be people who share NHS values and may have wanted to work in the NHS but have been put off perhaps because of a lack of knowledge.

“We are anticipating it will be quite heavily oversubscribed and there will be a rigorous acceptance process to choose the successful applicants.”

There has been ongoing concern about the availability of high quality senior leaders in the NHS, including clinicians. In autumn last year the government announced £46m would be invested in the NHS Leadership Academy delivering leadership training to 10,000 NHS staff by 2015, including 5,000 nurses and midwives.