We run a highly successful open programme for clinical development and were able to use the building blocks from this model as the basis for the programme at Barts Health. We then built in tailored content based on the local context and the specific needs of participants. This approach enabled us to keep design costs to a minimum, while also delivering a bespoke programme.
Our aim was to help the trust create and pilot a tailored development programme that it would then be able to run in-house itself in future years. We worked as part of a small project group – including an associate medical director, the assistant director of culture change and three clinical directors from the trust – to co-design all aspects of the programme and plan its co-delivery.
Together, we delivered a nine-day programme in three modules that started in September 2015. Around 25 participants took part, from a number of specialties across the trust.
The programme was designed to support individual leadership development, but also to build a collective leadership capability, acknowledging the powerful role clinical directors could play as an engaged and inspiring team to lead clinical services.
Our focus throughout was the role of the clinical director in relation to the wider system and the changing day-to-day context of the role at the trust. For this reason we kept the design process fairly flexible, reviewing our plans and incorporating feedback from the project group before the start of each module. This helped us to remain a step ahead of the changes across the trust over the lifetime of the programme, but also meant we could adapt quickly to the changing needs of the group.
Feedback from the clinical directors who participated in the programme was overwhelmingly positive. Our evaluations showed that the programme gave people a much clearer ownership of the role of clinical director and a wider understanding of the challenges the trust was facing and their role in helping to overcome these challenges.
Participants were given the space and time to think and to connect with each other about the dilemmas of leading, and this proved very powerful. Trust built quickly within the group, enabling people to grow as leaders both personally and collectively.
As a result a new identity emerged for those in the role of clinical director at Barts Health. As well as developing new levels of self-awareness and advanced leadership behaviours, clinical directors now have a strong sense of the corporate responsibility they share in their roles and a real ownership of the learning culture that has been created.
This has helped to lay a powerful new foundation that is helping the organisation to move forward on its journey of cultural change and quality improvement.