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​​​​​​​​​​​​​New programme develops health leaders in Lambeth

A highly innovative programme to develop leadership skills across primary care in Lambeth and Southwark has had a substantial impact on new models of care in the area, says an independent evaluation report. ​

The report by the Centre for Strategy & Evaluation Services emphasises the programme's significant outcomes; including the formation of strong GP federations, general practice engagement in wider system integration, and successful delivery of  8am-8pm, seven day primary care access in the two London boroughs.

The Lambeth and Southwark Primary Care Development programme funded by a £1.2 million grant from Guy's and St Thomas' Charity has created a group of local change leaders and enabled the successful development of five GP federations in the two London boroughs. This has brought GP practices together to improve access and outcomes for patients, and explore new ways of delivering population-based care; such as care navigation and holistic assessments for people with complex needs. 

In 2014, NHS Lambeth and NHS Southwark Clinical Commissioning Groups joined together to run a development programme in response to the challenges facing primary care. The drive for a stronger and more sustainable model of general practice, at the centre of improving health outcomes through community-based care, shifted the thinking about primary care delivery at a local level.  The two CCGs recognised the need to support and increase leadership capacity and capability within general practice.  This has been achieved through the development of a group of GP and practice manager leaders who stepped forward to take on a new leadership challenge.

The programme was delivered in three phases over a two year period, and focused on leadership development, supporting the development and establishment of GP federations, and developing new models of care.   The programme included leadership workshops; masterclasses; visioning summits; group and one-to-one coaching, and opportunities to apply learning in practice.  Through the programme, funding was made available to allow participants to engage in developmental activities and to be released from their 'day to day' practice roles.

A total of 26 GPs and practice managers volunteered to take on a challenging and intensive process of leadership development.  Participants found new skills and uncovered hidden qualities in themselves that enabled them to lead practices in their local areas through a process of significant change.  The programme has also created the collective leadership capacity to ensure that general practice is able to contribute confidently to the development of new ways of working alongside other partners within the local care system. 

Dr Adrian McLachlan, Chair of NHS Lambeth CCG said: "We have seen GPs and practice managers gain new perspectives on leadership in the wider context of the primary care system and to understand issues around addressing improvement and implementing change.  It has been excellent to see participants realising their value as front line professionals whose experiences mean they can contribute to the transformation of primary care services.  The GP federations in Lambeth and Southwark would not have developed in the way they have without the participation in this programme. "

Dr Jonty Heaversedge, Chair of NHS Southwark CCG said: "We are very grateful for the significant funding from the Guy's and St Thomas' Charity which allowed us to run a programme that gave people time and space to develop. From this they grew in confidence and wanted to take more leading roles.  Undoubtedly the programme has had a major impact on changing the delivery of primary care from the bottom up."

 "The best things about the programme were meeting other people working in primary care in Lambeth and Southwark, having space to think about our frustrations and to be able to think more creatively about how to solve them, and working through these issues with people with different experiences," said Dr Lauren Parry, GP and director of IHL, the South Southwark GP federation.

Kieron Boyle, Chief Executive of Guy's and St Thomas' Charity, said: "With 90% of all patient contacts in the NHS taking place in general practice, primary care plays a fundamental role in keeping people well and cared for. As an independent foundation which backs new ideas to transform health, we are delighted to have supported this group of talented GPs and practice managers to develop their leadership skills. This has already led to more joined-up general practice and looks set to drive system-wide change in the future."   

Read the report summary here.

Read the full evaluation report here. ​