By Sarah Parker, ICS Director of Transformation and The Academy


Surrey 500, our new system leadership programme, commences on 23rd May, and it’s exciting to see nominations coming in from across Surrey Heartlands partners including the voluntary sector.

The challenges facing the NHS and social care can at times seem overwhelming. In the midst of these pressures we have dedicated, calm and compassionate professionals and volunteers continuing to seek ways to improve what we do, often in the face of baffling barriers. To support them we need to embed a culture of collaboration, helping to make it easier to work across boundaries that may have inadvertently got in the way of improving care. Systems are live and constantly change. They require curious, brave, tenacious and resilient leaders prepared to change old habits.

Historically our leaders have travelled to other parts of the country with courses often targeted separately to those who work in the NHS, Social Care or the voluntary sector. We want to harness the benefits of learning about system leadership together with colleagues who work with the same citizens, in the same place and whilst working on real projects or considering local challenges to meet our system’s ambitions.

Surrey 500 was a working title that stuck! Put simply we aimed for 500 people working in health and care in Surrey Heartlands to be supported by a locally run programme on the theory and practice of systems leadership. The programme will be a key enabler in helping us deliver our partnership ambitions as it will embed a culture that liberates innovation across traditional boundaries.

Surrey 500 has been funded from multiple sources including KSS Leadership Academy, Health Education England, NHS England and an in kind contribution from the organisational development and culture team at Novartis who will run some modules.

I don’t need to remind anyone that we’re operating in a time of high demand and significant change. Therefore, we really need solutions for improving health and care outcomes that are driven by individuals who can successfully collaborate with others to overcome things that are getting in the way of doing the right thing or achieving outcomes that matter. That’s what Surrey 500 will help us achieve.

Surrey 500 is Surrey Heartlands first large-scale leadership programme offering the opportunity to learn with colleagues working right across a system. Good system leaders know there’s a need to build alliances and collaborations by engaging peers and leading through influence and persuasion. They’re also resilient in the face of obstacles, such as working across organisational boundaries. The Surrey 500 programme will be developing all of these important skills.

This programme differs from other leadership courses because of this focus on systems leadership, rather than teaching the traditional theories of management and leadership. It will impart the skills that are needed to work collaboratively across systems rather than the traditional way of working within organisational silos. It is based on a successful model which was designed in conjunction with the Fylde Coast Integrated Care Partnership, Lancashire, and NHS North West Leadership Academy and we are indebted to them for sharing all they have learned – true system leadership support- thank you!

We have 500 places available for both individuals and teams who want to work better across boundaries (be it organisations, professions or communities) to improve the health and outcomes of our patients and citizens. Each cohort will be made up of 100 participants and the first of these starts in May 2019 for approximately eight months. Our Integrated Care Partnerships have already started nominating individuals to take part. If you want to know who leads your nomination process contact

I’m looking forward to joining colleagues at start the programme and staying in touch along the way to hear what else we can do to support this change.