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Developing competent and capable improvement leaders in NHS general practice: an evaluation of the Practice Leaders Programme (Portsmouth)

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Abstract:

Background: Leaders who have the capability to deliver service improvement in healthcare are much sought after at this time of structural change. This paper describes a leadership programme trialled in the UK in the medical specialty of general practice, which gave participants the opportunity to learn about the principles of leadership in healthcare, and approaches to service improvement. In their own practices, participants used the skills and knowledge that they had gained from the programme to identify, implement and evaluate a change in healthcare service provision.

Method: A total of 13 general practitioners and one practice business manager participated in the one-year programme, supported by a faculty team of three. Participants and faculty met as a learning set for one day a week over three terms, first to focus on the knowledge and skills needed to lead change, secondly to support the projects as they developed, and thirdly to review and evaluate them.

Results: The outcomes of the programme were evaluated using a number of data sources, including the Medical Leadership Competency Framework (a self-assessment rating scale). Participants completed the scale at the start and end of the programme. Statistical analysis (Wilcoxon signed-rank test) of the scores demonstrated statistical significance across 60 (75%) of the 80 items. Further data about the impact of the programme on their personal and professional development arose from their service improvement project reports and reflective accounts of the programme.

Conclusions: The Practice Leaders Programme (PLP) was found to be effective in developing competent and capable improvement leaders in NHS general practice. It supported the participants in developing new skills and confidence to make changes to healthcare services, and also provided insight into their learning and interaction with other practice team members.

Keywords: LEADERSHIP; PRIMARY HEALTHCARE; QUALITY; SERVICE IMPROVEMENT

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2008

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