‘Future leaders need to play key role in shaping transformation of health and social care’

Later this month, more than 1,500 people will descend on the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow over two days for NHS Scotland’s annual showpiece event.

The official theme chosen for this year’s gathering is ‘Working differently across boundaries to transform health and social care’, a reflection of the consensus that transformational change is now needed if Scotland’s health and social care services are to be fit for the future.

In this vein, the Health and Social Care Academy has recently been working closely with a group of people that we think are essential to this transformation effort, our ‘future leaders’ in health and social care.

We worked alongside Scotland’s Universities and Colleges to support students of health and social care disciplines and young people who are living with long term conditions or in caring roles, to co-design and deliver regional ‘hub’ events, aimed at initiating a discussion among their peers about what the future of health and social care should look like. After all, these young people will be providing the care and support of tomorrow.

This culminated in a national event last month held at Glasgow Caledonian University, which brought these future leaders together with the ‘leaders of today’ if you will – senior figures from the Third Sector, the Scottish Government, Healthcare Improvement Scotland, NHS Education for Scotland, NHS Health Scotland, the Scottish Social Services Council and more.

It’s fair to say that if anyone had any initial concerns that the future leaders might be nervous or overawed by the unique audience they had assembled in front of them then these were quickly put to bed! The future leaders confidently and articulately fed back to the delegates about the key issues that they and their peers had identified, spanning a wide range of areas including;

  • Examining the application of performance targets within health and social care in favour of a ‘more progressive’ approach
  • Further embedding the concept of health and social care integration in the way that undergraduate courses are taught, with more opportunities for students of different disciplines to learn and problem-solve together
  • Improving health literacy and better involving the public in shaping and driving change in health and care
  • Recognising and fostering leadership at all levels, including better tapping in to the wealth of ‘hidden talent’ that exists at delivery level

A strong plea from the future leaders was the need to create a culture and attitude towards risk that enables change to be instigated and fully realised, including giving people permission to develop bold and radical solutions.

They felt that current staff and ‘the system’ needed to be accepting of the new ideas of people entering the health and social care workforce. In the words of one student “they need to be prepared to work with this ‘bright spark’ that we have, or else it will just go out”.

So what next?

We heard that the future leaders would welcome opportunities for further ‘learning exchange’ in the future, noting that events bringing ‘future’ and ‘current’ leaders together in this way (and particularly on an equal footing) were pretty rare. Some of our current leaders have already made offers of mentorship, which is great. If this is something that you would be interested in offering to our future leaders, we’d love to hear from you.

In the more immediate term, we’re delighted that a number of the future leaders will be accompanying the Academy to the NHS Scotland event later this month.

So if you’re there, check out our ‘Spotlight session’ on the afternoon of Day 2 of the conference to hear what they’ve got to say, and keep your eyes peeled for our ‘Future Leaders Vision of Health and Social Care’ poster presentation in the exhibition space.

Chris Doyle, Policy and Information Officer, Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE)

For more information, email academy@alliance-scotland.org.uk


* Leanne Patrick, a Mental Health Nursing Student at the University of Stirling recently wrote for the Nursing Times sharing her reflections on the event. Read the article ”Wicked problems require creative solutions’ on the Nursing Times website.

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