The South West Yorkshire Partnership is a specialist NHS Foundation Trust that provides community, mental health and learning disability services to the people of Barnsley, Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield. The Trust employs around 4600 staff, in both clinical and non-clinical support services.

The Magnificent Seven development programme provides the Trust’s clinicians with practical training in leadership; effective partnerships; human resources; project management; innovation; marketing strategies; and managing cultural change.  Feedback from NHS staff attending the course praises its relevance to their professional practice and the benefits it will bring to leadership development and talent management within the Trust.

In addition to designing and running this programme, University of Huddersfield Business School has worked with the Trust on research projects to support innovation within the NHS and to improve operational performance through strategic Lean thinking.

In providing a bespoke training programme for South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (SWYPFT), the University of Huddersfield Business School is helping to ensure that the Trust’s junior and aspiring leaders and managers will have the skills, knowledge and competencies to help achieve the Trust’s vision.

When SWYPFT approached the Business School in late 2012, it recognised the importance of effective leadership at all levels of the organisation as a critical part of ensuring the highest quality of service.  Though the Trust already had a strong internal leadership development programme, this was targeted at senior staff (band 7 and above). It wanted to improve leadership skills amongst more junior levels of staff and believed that a partnership with the Business School could help achieve this ambition.

Jeremy Robbins, SWYPFT’s Assistant Director HR (Learning & Development), explains why they were looking for outside help: “We are very strong on organisational values and how these make a difference to the attitude and behaviour of our staff. We already have a good training offer but wanted to add more contemporary relevance and link theoretical learning to what is happening within SWYPFT.”

After discussion with the Trust, it was decided to base the training on the Magnificent Seven Management Development Programme developed at the Business School, which already matched much of the Trust’s ambitions and can easily be customised to meet differing organisational needs.

Huddersfield academics adapted the programme to recognise the culture, challenges and partnerships intrinsic to the healthcare market, developing a bespoke version that would provide SWYPFT staff with high quality and relevant leadership training.  Additional elements were introduced to make explicit connection with SWYPFT’s values, behaviours, talent management and leadership competencies and a new workshop was included to pull together the learning and development from the programme as a whole and help evaluation before taking it forward.

“The modified programme provides an academic rigour and credibility far higher than we could achieve in-house” Mr Robbins adds. “It has direct relevance to the workings of the NHS and we have been inundated with applications from our staff.”

Following a successful pilot in 2013, a further 50 employees are now enrolled on the programme and, with over 4,000 staff employed across the Trust, there is a significant target market for future growth.  The staff attending these programmes are a critical group in representing the Trust’s vision and acting as exemplars for all SWYPFT employees, and the partnership with the Business School is proving essential to achieving that aim. Immediate benefits have already been realised in changed practices and the long term expectations are that the programme’s focus on innovative and effective management will facilitate service changes that have a demonstrable impact on patient care.

David Bamford, Huddersfield’s Professor of Operations Management commented:  "From our perspective this has been an excellent experience.  Designing the bespoke programme allowed us to factor in the current needs of the NHS and the subsequent delivery to the highly engaged participants, by the mixed discipline academic team, really added value for all parties.  Challenging discussions and real world examples aided the transfer of knowledge; we gained through real life contextualisation of the theories we teach."