Lord Darzi’s High Quality Care for All report outlines a bold vision for the health service requiring new ways of working and strong leadership.

I believe that to succeed, every organisation in the NHS has a responsibility to develop its most talented employees as potential leaders for the NHS as a whole. This can only be achieved by increasing the opportunity for cross organisational development, where skilled officers and clinicians are given the chance to develop their skills across a wider sphere of influence.

The power of any organisation comes from the sum of its parts and its ability to be flexible to change

The NHS is the fourth largest employer in the world and it is sometimes easy to forget we all work for the same organisation and share common goals.

Getting a balance of people who stay and those who move after a shorter time is a healthy way of keeping organisational memory without getting too cosy. It also helps develop new perspectives. I mentor two aspiring leaders from other organisations and I encourage all leaders to do this.

London is an excellent example of health service organisations working together. Leading for Health offers initiatives to nurture talent on a cross organisational scale with the over-arching goals of providing the right leadership, creating a talent pool of potential chief executives and directors and producing better clinical leaders. There is the Next Generation Chief Executive’s programme and Preparing to Lead, which focuses on helping clinicians progress to GP and consultant positions with significant trust or strategic level management and leadership responsibilities.

Mentoring for Diversity focuses specifically on developing individuals from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, while the Aspiring Nurse Directors programme is aimed at the new “rising stars” of nursing who are looking to move into corporate roles.

In Redbridge, we offer a number of staff secondment opportunities and those who return share the experience they have gained. This provides a depth of talent and experience that can be recycled through mentorship and coaching programmes and used to bring on a new generation of leaders.

In Redbridge, we are also nurturing new leaders: talent management is now an integral part of our staff performance appraisal system.

We ask individuals how they would like their career to develop against a specific timeline. We then provide appropriate training and development opportunities and their progress is assessed annually.

There is also an Aspiring Leaders programme which, critically, includes candidates from partner organisations such as the local authority so staff are given a broader understanding of their role within the community.

Likewise, clinical managers working in areas such as nursing and health visiting are provided with additional training because their roles have traditionally not involved line management responsibilities.

We are also committed to clinical leadership in commissioning and have recently appointed five GPs to lead polysystem development.  These clinical directors work with fellow practitioners to drive forward change, including care pathway redesign, but also acquire new skills such as finance and commissioning.

The power of any organisation comes from the sum of its parts and its ability to be flexible to change.  Leadership development is key to making this happen and we all have a role to play in developing tomorrow’s champions.

NHS Leadership Spring Debates: Collaboration