ROAN information sheet 24: Leadership in primary care


Some of the most extensive changes in the NHS will occur in primary care. Primary care teams will need to evolve the way they work, to build cross-organisational partnerships, and play a full role in integrated service redesign. This will need primary care professionals who are inspired, equipped and supported as leaders. Most leaders in primary care receive little formal development, and there remains a deficit of basic managerial skills in some practices. Time out is hard to find, the language of leadership can feel alien, and the idea of learning how to lead often under-valued.

Key messages

Every doctor has a role as leader, not just those in ‘obvious’ management positions.

  • Effective clinicians understand the systems in which they work and how to improve them, to benefit patients and local populations.
  • Innate leadership qualities can be enhanced through support and development.

Leadership development and where to find it

  • Online: The introductory online ‘Edward Jenner’ programme is available, free, from the NHS Leadership Academy. Leadership modules also available at e-Learning for Healthcare.
  • Coaching and mentoring is available through both the Academy’s local teams and the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management (FMLM).
  • Diagnostics. The Academy’s Healthcare Leadership Model comes with a free self-assessment and 360-feedback tool. Other diagnostic tools are available e.g. FMLM 360, MBTI, Firo B.
  • Short courses. Workshops, seminars and short courses are provided by local Academy teams, NHS England, training hubs and commercial organisations.
  • Longitudinal programmes. The Academy’s national offers include: Mary Seacole, Rosalind Franklin, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Nye Bevan as well as two BAME positive action programmes, Ready Now and Stepping Up.
  • Accreditation. FMLM provide levels of portfolio-based recognition (Fellowship) against a set of standards.
  • Organisational development. Leadership development is most effective in the context of organisational development. Local Academy teams can support organisations and networks in formation/transition.

Further information

This information sheet is relevant primarily to NHS England-connected doctors.

Released January 2019.