Collaborate, South East London Integrated Care System’s leadership development programme

On Thursday 1 December leaders and emerging leaders from across South East London Integrated Care System (SEL ICS) came together to take part in the launch of the ICS’s new System Leadership Development programme, Collaborate.

09 Dec 2022
leadership team
senior leaders

Collaborate is an innovative new NHS leadership development programme, specifically tailored to develop system leadership capability in a cohort of upcoming leaders across SEL ICS.  It’s a unique programme, one which aims to support people to play system leadership roles and give them the knowledge and skills to transform health and care services across organisational boundaries.  We know that leadership skills of this kind, designed by south east London for south east London will be critical in fulfilling the core purpose of an ICS and delivering for our residents.

The programme prides itself in creating opportunities for future system leaders to form meaningful connections with established leaders – laying the groundwork to achieve system-wide collaboration and integration.

Thirty candidates have already been selected to form the first cohort of participants, reflecting the diversity within the partnerships and population in south east London.  Every provider is represented, and there is also strong representation from the voluntary sector as well as statutory health and care organisations.

Dr Jonty Heaversedge, Joint Medical Director for SEL Integrated Care Board (ICB) said:

Collaborate is unique to south east London and underlines our commitment to develop a diverse and inclusive cadre of future leaders which reflects our commitment to collaboration and community involvement in our work.” 

Andrew Bland, ICB CEO, added: 

“As an ICS we are deliberately trying to find solutions beyond health, working together as partners to help our residents live the healthiest possible lives, whilst tackling health inequalities. High quality leadership is key to this.”

Speakers on the day included Professor Kevin Fenton, Regional Director for London in the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities within the Department of Health and Social Care, and President of the UK Faculty of Public Health.  He spoke about his own leadership journey, the challenges facing our population, and the opportunities to address these as a system, saying:

“Partnerships rule in complex environments. Investing in partnerships that are deep and meaningful means when things change you can go back to those partnerships for support and can cope in complexity.

“Understanding the unique role we play in a complex system is paramount. We can’t control a complex system but playing your role and working in partnership, you can serve local populations.

“As leaders we need to recognise this work is hard and find the time to learn best practise and share stories of success.  It’s important we view leadership as a craft, so we understand the skills and competencies needed to operate at that level and what we need to stay on top of our game”.

Dr Don Berwick, President Emeritus of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and former Administrator of the Centres for Medicare and Medicaid Services in the United States under Barack Obama, shared reflections on the evolution of healthcare and the challenges we face in serving our population during a period of financial and social challenges. He said:

“This integrated care system initiative is the most important endeavour that the NHS has engaged in during my 25 years. The ICS approach, should it be successful, will be the true transformation that the NHS might now achieve. It’s not a sure thing, but what you’re doing in South East London is a very important next step. Crafting, sculpting a national health service for the future. Nothing less than that.” 

“Under conditions of austerity, people’s first impulse is ‘we cannot afford inventions, we cannot afford to try stuff’. Under times of stress, austerity, and scarcity, that’s the time when exactly the other impulses will rescue you. Not ringfencing but sharing. Not keeping what’s yours but unprecedented generosity. Not cutting innovation, but making sure innovation becomes the only thing you’re doing. Everywhere in the system people are allowed to try new things.” 

Dr Rob Harland, Consultant Psychiatrist at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust who is part of the first cohort said:

“After working in one part of the system you realise that however innovative and smart your ideas you cannot solve problems in isolation. Only by working in collaboration can we mobilise the assets within our communities and services to coordinate interventions and improve health outcomes. This programme is giving us the exciting opportunity to move our ideas from silos to systems, to build working relationships and to learn the craft of leadership.”

There will be opportunities to apply to join future cohorts of the Collaborate programme in 2023.  Please email