ABC of Clinical Leadership
ABC of Clinical Leadership
The Importance of Clinical Leadership
Sarah Jonas 1, Layla McCay 2 and Sir Bruce Keogh 3
1 Sussex Partnership NHS Trust, UK
2 University of Tokyo, Japan
3 NHS England, UK
Clinical leadership is vital to the success of healthcare organisations.
Strong clinical leadership is associated with high-quality and cost-effective care.
Clinical leadership means healthcare professionals engaging in setting direction and implementing change.
Effective clinical leadership is collaborative and multidisciplinary
Clinical leadership is needed at every level.
Healthcare is a huge, important and inherently complex business; every person in the world needs it, every country spends substantial proportions of their gross domestic product (GDP) on it, governments are judged by it, populations are determined by it and almost everyone has a personal interest in how it is delivered. The USA spent 17% and the UK 9% of its GDP on healthcare in 2013. Healthcare organisations also provide employment for a substantial sector of the population; for instance, the UK's National Health Service (NHS) employs 1.4 million people, making it the third largest civilian organisation in the world.
To enable organisations of such magnitude to deliver high-quality healthcare, high-quality leadership and management are vital at every level, from the national to the local, all the way down to the orchestration of individual interactions between patients and healthcare professionals. To be truly effective, this leadership must come not just from professional managers, but from across the clinical professions ( Figure 1.1 ).
Figure 1.1 Truly effective clinical leadership is multidisciplinary.
What is clinical leadership?
The terms 'leadership' and 'management' are often used synonymously or as overlapping concepts. But as Chapter 2 describes, they are two distinct but interdependent ways in which organisations, groups or individuals set about creating change while maintaining stability. Leadership involves creating a vision, setting strategic direction and establishing organisational values. Management is more focused on directing people and resources to deliver the strategic aims established and propagated by leadership. A lack of either - leadership or management - makes it difficult for an organisation to effect change or bring about improvement.
Clinical leadership refers to the concept of healthcare professionals, as opposed to professional managers, undertaking the leadership task: setting, inspiring and promoting values and vision, and using their clinical experience and skills to ensure the needs of the patient are the central focus in their organisation's aims and delivery. Clinical leadership is key in both promoting high-quality care and transforming services to meet evolving population needs. And there is a role for clinical leadership at every level in healthcare organisations and systems; leadership is a process, not a position.
Why is clinical leadership important?
Globally, healthcare organisations must balance the need for financial sustainability and competitiveness with the need to deliver safe and effective care. There is mounting international evidence that good clinical engagement is associated with high organisational performance, and that strong clinical leadership leads to care of higher quality ( Box 1.1 ). Effective leadership in healthcare occurs at distinct levels: the strategic, the organisational and the frontline. And just as multidisciplinary approaches benefit face-to-face patient care, drawing on diverse experience and skills can also help achieve high-quality healthcare at these vario