The Department of Health is considering expanding access to the intensive leadership coaching only currently available to those on the elite “Top Leaders” scheme, HSJ has learnt.

The move follows hundreds of requests from managers not picked for the Top Leaders programme, which provides members with training, networking opportunities, mentors, secondments and coaching.

NHS Top Leaders director Karen Lynas told HSJ: “There’s a number of people who aren’t quite ready to move into senior leadership roles but do want to access development support.

“Two hundred people since Christmas have asked to get on the NHS Top Leaders programme…for support with managing the transition. We’re having to turn people away who would really benefit from the development.”

The DH was considering whether to “broaden the access to national programmes like Top Leaders for those who are going to benefit from it”. This would involve paying for extra leadership “tools” such as coaching, she said.

Ms Lynas also said that the Leadership Academy, which officially launched on 1 April, planned to develop a series of tailored leadership programmes for medical and nursing directors. This was in anticipation of likely recommendations from the public inquiry into Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.

The academy’s budget for 2012-13 will comprise £21m from money previously channelled through the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement and a further £9.6m of funding that previously would have sat within the Department of Health.