Resilience, improved confidence and stronger working relationships are three of the benefits cited by the participants of our Surrey 500 leadership programme at the end of their participation is our new place-based system leadership development programme, Surrey 500.

I was privileged to attend the Celebration Events which marked the end of the first programmes, and it was wonderful to see the enthusiasm and energy of the participants as they shared their experiences of the training, talked to us about real actions and changes they had made through the connections, and their resilience and reflection on their skills.

The Surrey 500 programme is our first place-based leadership programme, named to take 500 leaders working in our newly formed integrated care partnership footprints on a development programme to support working collaboratively. The place-based nature was a crucial element – plugging the gap from development programmes that run in organisations or in national silos and including the breadth of our health and care workforce. We also needed to do this at speed in a cost efficient way that could take as many leaders as possible working right here, right now on solutions to improved health and care. The aim was to dually enable them to benefit from systems leadership theory and practice whilst forging new local networks and working on real time projects.

We remain grateful to the Fylde Coast Integrated Care Partnership and Lancashire and NHS North West Leadership Academy who had forged this journey a few months ahead of us and so generously shared their framework and learning to enable us to go from conception to launch in 5 months.

Collaborating isn’t always straightforward. Shifting from a culture of competition to collaboration, from leading from the front to listening and leading together, was crucial. Our new world of leaders in health and care need to recognise each other and to nurture skills that enable them to engage people and groups outside their formal control; creating environments and opportunities that inspire work towards shared goals despite differences in convictions, cultural values and operating environments. Work pressures are immense but pausing and reflecting genuinely will take us further, faster.

Surrey 500 is one of our new exciting programmes in this journey to work in partnerships.   The aim of Surrey 500 was to support more of our frontline leaders across the breadth of health and care in Surrey, to work together on key local issues whilst also developing their own personal collaborative leadership skills.

We’ve had some great feedback from participants. Here are just a few comments:

Dr Shelina Jaffer, GP, Oxted Health Centre: “System change has been a new concept for me and the Surrey 500 Programme has made me realise it’s not about waiting for the opportunity, instead it’s about making the opportunity. It’s not about me and you, it’s about ‘us.’ That’s what’s so important and that’s what this programme has highlighted.”

Ron Critcher, Policy and Development Officer at Surrey Country Council: “Since the start of the Surrey 500 programme some new projects have come on line at work and I’ve felt able and confident to take those projects forward with others to get the right result.”

Helen Smith, Practice Nurse, The Fort House Surgery: – “The training sessions have been workshop style, interactive, and have used different techniques to look at ideas and concepts. It’s really brought home to me why we’re all here, what we’re doing this for and how important our professions are.”

Neil Selby, Programme Manager for Frailty and Integrated Care, Surrey Heartlands: “At one session I was sat next to someone from Surrey Police who’s working on some interesting technology work about reducing the fear of crime and immediately I though actually that’s potentially improving wellbeing and so I suggested we work together in the future.”

Surrey 500 has been a really exciting opportunity for people to come together, be empowered as leaders and think across and beyond traditional organisational boundaries to achieve change.

Now we need to take that learning forwards to provide better outcomes for our citizens. Having witnessed the enthusiasm of our participants at the events this week I’ve no doubt they’ll make this happen.

Thanks to all of our wonderful participants, their senior managers and mentors, and also the many people across our partnership who put this programme together and helped make it a success.