Everyone can lead change; no matter what their role and wherever they work

A few weeks ago NHS England and other national organisations held its first Health Care Assistant/care staff conference, attracting more than 250 care staff colleagues from around the country and across the health and care sector. Susan Aitkenhead, Director of Nursing, Professional Development at NHS England described the buzz and atmosphere as brilliant, with health and care colleagues really keen to find out more and better understand how Leading Change, Adding Value applies to them.

Health and care staff make up a significant proportion of the workforce and have a vitally important role to play in delivering care across different settings. Last year, Professor Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer for England launched ‘Leading Change, Adding Value: a framework for nursing, midwifery and care staff’ (LCAV). The framework positions nursing, midwifery and care staff as leaders no matter what their role, wherever they work. It highlights the need to apply the same importance on how we measure the outcomes of our work, as we do to demonstrate quality. It focusses on how nursing, midwifery and care staff can lead in reducing the three gaps of health and well-being, care and quality, and funding and efficiency as set out in the ‘Five Year Forward View’ (FYFV).

We can do this by identifying and addressing ‘unwarranted variation’ which is a new way of working for many. Unwarranted variation is described as variations in health and care outcomes, an individual’s experience and use of resources that cannot be justified by reasons of geography, demography, or infrastructure. Put simply, it’s about looking at differences in health outcomes of people, individuals and populations and identifying what we can do, as nursing, midwifery and care staff to identify and reduce that unwarranted variation in practice.

Our HCA/care staff conference in London really helped demonstrate the vital role that care colleagues have and crucially, the importance of their role in the implementation of the framework. The event was held in partnership with national organisations across the health and care sector, including Health Education England, Public Health England and NHS Improvement, to name a few.

I was absolutely thrilled to see so many frontline staff at the conference, all with an appetite to learn, share knowledge and network with each other. I briefly set out the principles of the framework and particularly focussed on what it means and who can use it. Delegates made it clear they wanted to understand more about the framework and were inspired to take the framework and its principles back to their workplace.

A presentation from Anthony Longbone, an inspiring HCA leader demonstrated to his peers the art of the possible when he spoke of the work that he had led.

The afternoon was just as energetic and positive. Five workshops helped care staff understand what has happened to date under Leading Change, Adding Value, which also helped them think about their own areas of work where change might be needed.

Workshops discussing leg ulcer wound care, smoking cessation and reduction, dementia care, understanding RightCare and developing a Learning and Development Framework helped delegates understand how to start to identify and address unwarranted variation.

Feedback from the event confirmed the importance of face to face engagement events. Many delegates said: “It was nice to hear how important the care staff role is and to be appreciated and valued.” “I enjoyed the afternoon sessions; because it opened my mind to other areas and knowledge.” “The morning presentations were very inspirational and informative – thoroughly enjoyed it.”

So what have we learnt from this conference? For me, the most important factor is being able to network and engage with colleagues who really make a difference to people, individuals and populations receiving care. Leading Change, Adding Value is a framework that can support all staff across the health and care sector to lead change and add value. The success of this event means we will hold another event in the North of England in August this year. We will also launch a series of campaigns throughout the next twelve months, providing a wide range of opportunities for staff to better understand the framework and how their role is vitally important in leading change and adding value across the health and care sector.

I’d also like thank our wonderful Care Makers who contributed to the event and were, as always, superb ambassadors of nursing, midwifery and care staff. Care Makers bring the 6Cs, our nursing, midwifery and care values to life. They champion the principles of the framework for all nursing, midwifery and care staff – and volunteer at many of our events. Care Makers are dedicated to making a positive difference in any way that they can, however big or small. We’re always on the lookout for new CareMakers to help expand our growing network.

Finally, we’ve made a short film of the event to capture some of the main points and learning that care staff can use in their workplace. This will be available on our web pages very soon. To find out more about Leading Change, Adding Value visit our web pages or send us an email:

It was a pleasure to meet everyone at the conference and I look forward to meeting many other colleagues from nursing, midwifery over the coming months. Together, we can truly lead change across the health and care sector and add value to the people, individuals and populations who we work in partnership with.

To find out more about Leading Change, Adding Value visit our web pages or send us an email: and follow Susan Aitkenhead on Twitter – @SAitke

Susan Aitkenhead

Susan Aitkenhead is a Deputy Chief Nursing Officer to Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England and supports CNO on matters linked to professional regulation, education, research, and collective leadership. This is in addition to the work with ministers, government officials, professional regulators, royal colleges, professional bodies and the Devolved Administrations to help shape policy and decision making.

Susan was previously a Director of Nursing at NHS England leading on a range of work aligned to system and service transformation at national, regional and local levels.

Susan is a registered nurse with extensive clinical, operational and strategic experience within healthcare across a variety of settings; and provider and commissioning executive and non-executive Board roles within both the UK and overseas.

She has also worked in a variety of other national roles such as at the Department of Health providing advice and support to ministers and policy officials across central government departments, and in professional regulation across the UK at the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Twitter: @SAitke

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One comment

  1. Kassander says:

    “Everyone can lead change; no matter what their role and wherever they work”
    Do you really mean “Everyone”?
    Given who was invited and attended your meeting your definition of “Everyone” leaves out about 55 million of we who pay your wages?