Cancer workforce: clinical leadership guidance

Information for cancer service colleagues across NHS Scotland on opportunities for developing clinical leadership skills. The guidance highlights tools to help identify leadership development needs and how to progress these at all career stages.

2. Strategic Context

This section summarises some of the strategic drivers underpinning this guidance document.

Lancet Commission on the Future of the NHS

The Lancet Commission's 2021 paper on the future of the NHS provides a first analysis of the initial phases of the COVID-19 response setting out recommendations to ensure both resilience to future threats and the long-term advancement of the NHS. Looking to 2030 and beyond the paper sets out seven broad recommendations.

Workforce is signalled as a key priority, forming the basis of recommendation three. Due to a failure to adapt roles and responsibilities of different health and care staff to respond to changing health needs and staffing shortfalls, the report advocates for the development of a sustainable, skilled and inclusive health and care workforce. Workforce planning and introducing educational reform are outlined as integral to this. Nurturing and supporting clinical leadership within cancer services directly aligns with this.

Scottish Government Workforce Commitments

The Health Workforce Directorate has strategic policy responsibility for NHS Scotland's multidisciplinary workforce. Leadership development work is currently being delivered through Project Lift. However, a need to widen the reach of Project Lift and other leadership development opportunities currently available across health and social services has been identified.

A National Leadership Development Programme has been proposed to address this. This is being led by the Scottish Government's Leadership and Talent Management team and is being co-created and designed with a wide-range of their stakeholders across health, social care, social work, local authority and academia. NHS Education for Scotland (NES) are the core delivery partners for the work. The Programme will build on the work of Project Lift and complement leadership development and support at local levels within health, social work and social care workplaces.

The ambition is for the Programme to be designed for leaders at all levels and to consist of leadership support and development, improved digital resources and tailored communications to Health, Social Care and Social Work, culture change and NHS Board CEO Succession Planning. The Programme will be focused on creating compassionate, collaborative and inclusive leaders who demonstrate these values, to enable an open and welcoming culture in which people can thrive.

The commitment to nurturing leadership set out in the National Cancer Plan therefore sits within a much wider drive to develop leadership skills across health and social care.

Leadership in Cancer Services

The importance of clinical leadership has been underlined in a published 2021 article that explores the role of leadership in improving cancer survival.[2] The input of clinical leaders is highlighted as one of four key effective leadership facets and the article advocates for their involvement at every tier of the cancer system.

The current Cancer Strategy for Children and Young People in Scotland 2021-26 also makes a clear commitment to leadership development. Aligning with the priorities set out in the National Cancer Plan, the provision of leadership development opportunities to support continuing professional development and facilitate future succession planning are two key components.



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