Case study - NHS South West Leadership Academy

The NHS South West Leadership Academy (SWLA) required a bespoke programme to enable both clinical and non-clinical employees to develop confidence and leadership for innovation when caring for patients.


The NHS South West Leadership Academy (SWLA) operates a small, dynamic team that oversees the creation, design and delivery of learning interventions with the aim of empowering and supporting NHS staff in the delivery of better health, care and wellbeing outcomes across the whole healthcare system. The SWLA seeks to achieve this through developing excellent compassionate and inclusive leadership capacity in its stakeholder population.


The SWLA required a comprehensive leadership development programme that would help increase the capacity of clinical and non-clinical leaders to drive service effectiveness and transformation to bring about improvements in patient care. A learning solution was needed that would equip these leaders with the skills and ability to meet individual and team goals in respect of leading high-quality and compassionate patient care. They needed to be able to operate effectively at a systems level, in multi-disciplinary teams and across organisational boundaries, successfully engaging with a wide range of partners and stakeholders.

Our solution:

Working in collaboration with the North Bristol NHS Trust and Exeter Leadership Consulting Ltd., we partnered with the NHS SWLA to co-create a programme for clinical and non-clinical leaders in health and social care to help them develop the confidence, resilience, entrepreneurial mindset, skills and authority needed to ‘act locally’ and lead innovations to improve patient care.

A ten-day programme comprised of six modules was created and delivered over an eight-month period. The programme, named ‘Leadership for Improving Frontline Talent’ (LIFT), is now in its fifth iteration and emphasises cumulative and sustainable learning. It explores leadership for innovation at multiple levels from leadership of self, to leading teams and groups and also influencing the wider health care system.

The programme has continually evolved since its inception to adapt to the needs of each cohort and a constantly changing context. The programme includes a 360-degree feedback process along with the use of a range of diagnostic instruments and peer coaching. It also includes a leadership exchange programme, where participants ‘pair up’ with another participant from a different part of the health sector, and immerse themselves in each other’s work for a couple of days as participant observers to gain a different perspective. Participants share their observations and feedback with each other for development purposes.


An independent evaluation of the first run of the LIFT programme indicated that:

  • 100% of line managers would send colleagues to LIFT in the future
  • 94% of managers said LIFT has impacted positively on their colleagues within the team
  • Participants reported 100% satisfaction with the delivery of the LIFT programme
  • 93% said LIFT had a positive impact on their working practices
  • 88% of LIFT alumni would like additional or ongoing leadership training.

We also collect impact data from our participants 12 months post-programme completion. Our survey results show strong retention of learning, evidence of workplace application and of a strong perceived link between learning and application.

To date, 172 leaders have attended the LIFT programme.

Want to find out more?

For further information on our services and programmes, or to arrange an initial meeting to discuss your needs, please contact the Bristol Business Engagement Centre (BBEC) and speak with a member of our team.

Back to top