Collaborate and Primary Care Leadership

July 1, 2016 | Filed under

NHS Collaborate is delivered in partnership by the New NHS Alliance, the National Association of Primary Care, The Nuffield Trust and Salix & Co, a specialist communications consultancy.

The overall purpose of Collaborate is to develop leadership, especially clinical leadership in primary care provider organisations. The three main components of this are:

Identification: of current leaders, of emergent leaders and of the leaders of the future.

Support: we understand that leadership can feel a lonely place, especially when there is so much negativity, as per the present.

Connect: Connecting leaders to each other and to decision makers.

Why is this needed? There is wide spread agreement that leadership is vital for transformation and change, yet there is no national leadership programme for primary care service providers. Secondly, what current leaders have told us is that “off the shelf” development courses did not meet their needs. Being told how to chair a meeting, what the governance requirements are for organisational directors and how to interact with the public and the media doesn’t address their emotional needs, their sense of isolation, their fears and their feelings of sometimes being completely overwhelmed by events around them.

Collaborate has therefore been specifically designed for leaders, by leaders.  It is there to maximise talent. It is there to support people who want to make a difference, people who want to be exceptional and not ordinary. It is there for people who want to be brave.

The initial phase of Collaborate, April to June 2016, has purposely focused on leaders within a small number of vanguard sites. The intention is then to rapidly spread learning to other vanguards and non-vanguard providers, in order to support and accelerate the change process.

What we’ve learned so far in conversations with those leaders is that the qualities required of our current leadership are things like courage, resilience and confidence. These qualities are hard to sustain when there are so many people willing to kick you for not seeming to be perfect, whilst failing to recognise the many small innovations that really do make a difference. To say “thank you” and “well done”. There was a feeling that help was needed to keep their energy levels up, to act as “stretcher bearers” after a knock and to share their fears and anxieties in a safe environment. Despite this, there is a genuine willingness and enthusiasm for change amongst current leaders, a real desire to make a difference.

Current leaders are experiencing a whole range of emotions, some very positive, such as courage, passion and desire. These, however, are balanced by feelings of doubt, fear and anxiety. Phrases that have been used include being “in at the deep end” and “in the firing line”.

Collaborate will deliver that support. It will also allow leaders to learn from the experience of others and to keep checking on the relevance of their vision and core assumptions. Collaborate will also deliver a strong and influential ear for professionals and providers in primary care. It will establish a long term relationship between NHS England and the leading membership organisations for primary care providers. The next step for Collaborate is the setting up of a learning community to support and connect leaders. This will be a virtual platform, using innovative communication channels. A Face Book page and Whatsapp group have already been set up. This learning community is available not just to those within vanguard sites but to all individuals and organisations who want to make a difference.

We want and need leaders in primary care provision to be brave, to be courageous and to be exceptional. We need our leaders to inspire. We need our leaders to give hope. Front line clinicians and staff are demoralised and dispirited. Threats of mass resignation only adds to that despondency. Our patients often feel helpless and hopeless. This is then magnified by those same emotions being echoed in the front line workforce.

We need our leaders to be inclusive, to support and encourage staff to develop a vision for primary care that they themselves can deliver. Hope and vision cannot be commissioned.

We need leaders from within provider organisations to inspire that hope. To be brave.

The following individuals make up the core faculty of Collaborate

Dr Jonathan Serjeant, clinical director, BICS, programme lead, NHS Alliance Accelerate

Dr Phil Yates, chair, GP Care , chair, NAPC NAPO (National Association of Provider Organisations)

Sarah Wrixon, communications director, NHS Alliance, former national communications lead, NHS Working in Partnership Programme, founder Salix & Co

Jake Arnold-Forster, chair COBIC, former CEO, Dr Foster Intelligence

Dr Dharini Shanmugabavan, south London GP, deputy medical director, central

London Community Healthcare Trust, member of NHS Alliance National Executive

Jane Cryer, Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management, GP development in federations / new models of care

Dr Jane Povey, Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management

Dr Mark Spencer, Fleetwood GP, co-chair, New NHS Alliance

Dr Michael Holmes, York GP, chair Humberside Faculty, RCGP

Dr Minesh Patel, East Grinstead GP, clinical chair, NHS Horsham, vice-chair, NAPC

Dr Peter Devlin, Brighton GP, co-founder Brighton & Hove Integrated Care Services

Dr Phil Ridsdill Smith, GP Partner, Haslemere Health Centre and former adviser to SoS for Health

Dr Rebecca Rosen, south east London GP, senior fellow, Nuffield Trust

Dr Robert Varnam, Manchester GP, head of general practice development, NHS England

Una Nicholson, independent facilitator for BICS and specialising in the NHS


Dr Mark Spencer

Co-Chair: New NHS Alliance