A leadership development project set up by Bedfordshire primary care trust and the Royal College of Nursing is helping nurses and therapists develop new skills and improve patient care

Ten Bedfordshire nurses and therapists are among the first in the country to complete a new style of leadership programme, developed jointly by Bedfordshire primary care trust and the Royal College of Nursing.

Representing nursing, speech and language therapy, physiotherapy and occupational therapy, 10 members of staff completed a six-month investigation into key areas of work in the PCT.

This project-based approach is a new departure for the RCN's clinical leadership work, taking learning out of the classroom and into the heart of the PCT's day-to-day work, in the first such programme in the East of England region.

Practical approach

Senior PCT managers worked with RCN Eastern to develop a programme that looked at the development of clinical leadership skills in a pragmatic way. The PCT identified clinical engagement and patient and public involvement as leadership topics and RCN Eastern provided the framework and action learning sets to support the participants' projects.

On top of their normal jobs, this involved gathering and analysing information, shadowing senior staff from across the trust, interviewing directors and other senior managers and attending meetings within and outside the PCT.

This culminated in presentations to colleagues and managers at the PCT and RCN on their leadership journey and their findings and recommendations on their leadership topics.

Speech and language therapist Charlotte Reed took part in the programme. She says: "At the start, the scale of the task was daunting, but senior staff were very approachable and our mentors from the PCT's provider services were a huge support. Being part of the programme gave me the confidence to ask questions. The networking was a big plus for me and it has been tremendously helpful to understand all of the pressures and constraints on the PCT."