Leadership programme for GPs

In 2012, when Dr Jo Leahy was medical director of Telford & Wrekin & Shropshire County PCTs she developed a leadership programme for GPs, she wrote:

The need for leadership development for GPs in particular has been obvious to me for a long time, and although there had been a clinical leadership programme in Telford for several years, it was aimed primarily at non-doctors, and had difficulty engaging the doctors locally.

In 2008, I identified recurrent funding for a small programme for GPs, and at the same time was impressed by the brain-friendly learning style of facilitation and leadership development I experienced on an open course run by Kaizen Training. 

The first cohort of the programme started in 2008 and consisted of ten doctors (myself included), most of whom were GPs from two PCT areas, although we also had a CAMHS consultant from our provider arm at the time and the medical director of the out-of-hours provider.

The programme lasted for approximately one year, with three two-day workshops, participation in action learning sets and buddying.  A follow up day was held approximately one year later. Of those ten doctors, one was already in a significant leadership role and six others have gone on to fulfil significant roles, including two medical directors and two CCG chairs.

The second cohort included three consultant psychiatrists and a community paediatrician as well as eight GPs, so gave us all an opportunity to work with and better understand our colleagues in those specialities.

We are now on the third cohort of the programme, having refined the application process, adding in personal mentoring for each participant, and also a one day coaching skills workshop which has been much appreciated as well as enjoyed.  The participants again are mostly from general practice, but include one adult psychiatrist and two CAMHS consultants.

The changes in the NHS demand a high level of leadership from doctors, and we believe that this is an effective way to prepare doctors for the challenge and support them through it.  We use case-based learning and a very interactive style.

Examples of the feedback we have received include:

  • "I feel hugely inspired by what we have done over the last two days – and better equipped to rise to the challenges that the future is undoubtedly going to throw at me. I intend to make regular use of the tips on building emotional resilience."
  • "I feel challenged but more confident in my abilities to lead. I am feeling pushed into a situation where I have to take control of more of how I work and function, and now I really want to change. I feel very supported by the great members of the team."
  • "The sessions and the LPI feedback have given me a surprising insight into the effect my behaviours have on other people – and I shall go away with a commitment to listen to and value the contribution of others in my work. I am very hopeful that I shall be able to be much more effective with my team and others I relate to. Thanks for making this happen!"

Dr Jo Leahy is now a GP board member of Telford and Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Group.