Research underpinned new leadership development programmes delivered to over 65 NHS Trusts, fostering better relationships between managers and medical staff.


  • Leadership training and educational materials based on ESRC-funded research were delivered to staff in over 65 NHS trusts and Clinical Commissioning Groups.
  • Over 700 senior clinicians and 300 NHS directors have participated in organisational change programmes using the resources. Evaluations confirm significant personal and institutional benefits, such as a greater ability to avoid conflict and misunderstanding between clinicians and managers.
  • The research fed into the development of a toolkit for 'Developing Productive Relationships between Management and Medicine', which has been used widely across the NHS in organisational development projects.
  • The Knowledge Transfer Partnership informed the design of the first ever leadership programme at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust – incorporating St James’s University Hospital, Europe's largest teaching hospital. It led to the establishment of a Clinical Directors’ Forum for ongoing support.

About the research

Clinical leaders play an essential role in ensuring medical services are delivered efficiently and have a key role in processes of change. Despite this, many receive little or no leadership development support.

Researchers from the Centre for Innovation in Healthcare Management (CIHM), University of Leeds, assessed the impact that public management reforms have had on health professionals, and the obstacles that inhibit reform. Working with the Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust, the research team, led by Professor Ian Kirkpatrick, explored the barriers preventing clinicians from becoming effective healthcare managers, and identified factors that reduce these obstacles, support clinical engagement and improve service efficiency and quality.

As part of an ESRC-funded Knowledge Transfer Partnership with the NHS Trust, research findings were incorporated in training and educational material designed to develop leadership skills and bring about organisational change. Measures were also devised to assess leadership development and identify practices to maintain productive relationships between directors and medical staff.

Dialogue between the researchers and a network of senior NHS leaders helped develop the initial findings to ensure the training material’s relevance to practitioners and their workplace concerns. Leadership development programmes have been delivered to large numbers of NHS staff, including the Darzi Fellows Programme (completed by almost 200 London clinicians); the Leading Transformation Programme in Yorkshire and the Humber for senior leaders across the region; and the North West region’s Board Level Director Leadership Programme.