Re-imagining England’s National Health Service

In an effort to re-imagine their historic national institution, England’s National Health Service (NHS) Leadership Academy have enrolled 50 emerging leaders onto a ten-month, fast-track executive program, beginning with an intensive one month executive education program this past June co-delivered by HSPH Center for Executive and Continuing Professional Education, Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education, and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). Meredith Rosenthal (HSPH) and Mark Moore (HKS) are the Program Co-Directors, along with core faculty Rifat Atun (HSPH) and John McDonough (HSPH).

This high-level program, Promoting Health, Reimagining Care, was designed by KPMG UK, with support from the firm’s Global Center of Excellence for Health in collaboration with HSPH ECPE, HKS, and IHI, and funded by the NHS Leadership Academy.

Of the 50 future leaders, 25 were chosen from the NHS system by their current CEOs. The remaining 25 were selected through a rigorous application process; and 15 people came from fields completely outside of health care to prepare to assume high-level leadership roles in the NHS system.

“Working with the NHS Leadership Academy to develop and execute the first phase of Promoting Health, Reimagining Care was an educational experience for me,” says Meredith Rosenthal, Program Co-Director with Mark Moore from HKS. “The collaboration among NHS Leadership Academy staff, KPMG, IHI, HSPH, and HKS faculty generated a rich and engaging curriculum. Our work, however, pales in comparison to the level of engagement and excitement that the students brought to the program.”

Two key NHS goals at the present time are to bring transparency to how health care is provided with a particular focus on patient safety, and to develop strong, meaningful relationships with its users: the English public. The NHS aims to achieve this by challenging this pool of new leaders to disrupt the traditional way of delivering health care and become system change agents.

The HSPH/HKS program ran for the entire month of June 2014 and consisted of intensive executive education on location in Boston and Cambridge. It included classes taught by Rifat Atun, Ronald Heifetz, Nancy Kane, Meredith Rosenthal, Jeff Levin Sherz, Linda Kaboolian, Tom Lee, Jorrit de Jong, and many other distinguished HKS and HSPH faculty. The program also featured site visits to local and regional hospitals and other health care sites, as well as virtual discussions with hospital leaders in more distant states, organized and led by IHI.

“Coming from outside the [health care] environment, this has been a superb introduction to my new career,” wrote a program participant.

At the end of the first four weeks of the ten month program, all participants are back in England, where they are embedded in a variety of institutions and focusing on individual transformational change projects. In March of 2015, they return to Boston for a final week with HSPH and HKS and then go on to become the next generation of senior leaders in the NHS England.