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12 August 2015
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How to become an ‘Agent for Change’

Kate Adlington and Emma Parish, Co-chairs Agents for Change Strategic Advisory Group

You may not have heard of Agents for Change, but we believe you already are one.

Born out of the serious patient safety concerns raised in Mid Staffordshire Trust, Agents for Change was originally set up in 2007 by Fiona Godlee, Editor-in-Chief at The BMJ, and Professor Sir Bruce Keogh to recognise the hugely important, and often neglected role, junior staff have to play in effecting positive change where they work. In the subsequently published report into Mid Staffordshire, Sir Robert Francis highlighted trainees as the “eyes and ears” of the system to identify good clinical care[1],[2].

Initially conceived as a single event, Agents for Change has since grown into a social movement of junior doctors with not only eyes and ears, but wings on Twitter and a webinar series hosted by the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management.

There have been two webinars in the series so far. The first, Speak up with Power!, provided an insight into professional and shared decision makingasking doctors to “speak up, even if your voice quivers”. The second one explored what junior doctors need to know about interactions with industry, transparency and competing interests. Both webinars are still available to listen to on the FMLM website  and there is an ongoing discussion on the FMLM LinkedIn group

Agents for Change also has a growing presence at national events, running sessions at the BMJ Quality Improvement Forum in collaboration with IHI Open School, and the Royal College of Psychiatrists International Congress. These sessions helped juniors meet clinical leaders, develop their networking skills and create ‘elevator pitches’ of their innovative ideas to present back in their own workplaces. The vision is to create a generation inspired and prepared to deliver world class healthcare.

This October, Agents for Change will be holding a one-day conference for junior doctors in partnership with BMJ and FMLM, sponsored by NHS England. The theme of the event is ‘Junior Doctors: Time to Listen. When to Speak Up’.

This conference will bring together a network of junior doctors and other healthcare trainees from across the country to participate in a day of interactive talks, workshops and learning focused on how trainees can make a positive impact on the healthcare system they work within, and most importantly patient care.

The programme promises an inspiring day with topics including: transparency and speaking out, quality improvement, clinical leadership, patient safety and compassionate care, equality and diversity, and supporting colleagues. There will be an opportunity for trainees to share good practice with a poster competition and test their creativity with an Art in Medicine competition centred on the key themes of the day.

We will also be discussing the results of our research project on front line staff attitudes to speaking up for patient safety, based on a survey which we invite you to complete by 30 September.

With the recently rising profile of seven day services, the implementation of the five year forward view, person-centred care and the introduction of the duty of candour, junior doctors need to be up-to-date and engaged with these issues; learning that no contribution is ever too small when trying to improve care.

We look forward to welcoming as many of you as possible to future events.

Join Agents for Change on Twitter @agents4c #agents4c, Facebook or get in touch via email.

[1] Independent Inquiry into care provided by Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust January 2005 – March 2009. Chaired by Robert Francis QC. Published 24 February 2010. HC375-I Session 2009/10 ISBN: 9780102964394. Accessed online:

[2] Report of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry.February 2013. HC 947 London: The Stationery Office. Accessed online:

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