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Press release
7 April 2021
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NHS launches NHS Regional Clinical Fellow Scheme

As part of the response to the NHS People Plan, the NHS is investing in new programmes to strengthen clinical leadership capability, and prepare the leaders of the future.

The People Directorate of NHS England & NHS Improvement are launching the NHS Regional Clinical Fellow Scheme and an accompanying Alumni Scheme, and a new Executive Development Pathway for clinical leaders, in April 2021.

These schemes will deliver on a key commitment of the NHS People Plan 2020/21 to strengthen clinical leadership capability in the NHS, and to expand the opportunities and support to talented clinical leaders.

The NHS Regional Clinical Fellow Scheme will give talented early career clinicians across all professional groups the opportunity to join an NHS England and NHS Improvement regional team for one year, and work on projects supporting the recovery, reset and implementation of learning from the pandemic. Fellows will also take part in a leadership development programme produced in collaboration with the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management (FMLM).

The Executive Director Pathway (EDP) is a multi-profession scheme for aspiring executive clinical directors. The scheme will bring together assessment and development activities for staff at band 8+, to support the growth of a diverse talent pipeline to executive director roles.

The NHS Leadership Academy is also supporting the Florence Nightingale Foundation’s Leadership Support Service, which provides wellbeing support for nursing and midwifery leaders. To date the scheme has supported 1,700 nursing leaders, and the Academy’s investment will widen access to this.

Chief People Officer, Prerana Issar, said: “Great leadership at all levels is essential for fostering a compassionate and inclusive culture across the whole of the NHS and realising our People Promise.

“The People Directorate is delighted to launch the NHS Regional Clinical Fellow scheme and Executive Director Pathway. The Covid pandemic has shown us the value of clinical leadership at all levels, and as we move into this period of reset and recovery, these schemes will enable the NHS to harness and develop the talent of our workforce and to build a diverse pipeline of future clinical leaders.”

Jacqueline Davies, Director of Leadership and Lifelong Learning, who is leading the new initiatives, said: “In the wake of the pandemic, the importance of clinical leadership has come to the fore, and the Leadership Academy is bringing forward a renewed focus and support offer for clinical leadership development at all levels.

“The NHS Regional Clinical Fellow scheme will offer early career clinicians the opportunity to work across professions and organisations and gain experience of system leadership, transformation and service improvement, which will equip them with the skills that they need to lead a complex, changing and integrated NHS in the future.

“Fellows will work with clinical leads in NHS England and NHS Improvement regional teams and lead projects to support recovery from the pandemic, and delivery of the NHS Long Term Plan and People Plan.

“As well as being an enriching opportunity for individuals, this scheme will be a unique opportunity for the NHS to recognise the contribution of clinical leaders during the pandemic and beyond.”

Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer said: “The NHS is committed to supporting the professional development of our people and these new initiatives are a testament to that. Nurses, midwives and other clinical professionals have played visible leadership roles during the pandemic, and the Regional Clinical Fellow scheme will be a key opportunity to build on this. 

Our professions bring a unique perspective, and the new fellows will be huge assets for NHS England and NHS Improvement regional teams, through Covid recovery and beyond - I strongly encourage all eligible nurses and midwives to apply.”

Celia Ingham-Clark, Medical Director for Professional Leadership and Clinical Effectiveness said: “The NHS Long Term Plan highlights the importance of clinical leadership in enabling the delivery of high-quality care for our patients. 

“The NHS Regional Clinical Fellow Scheme builds on the success of our existing fellowship programmes with FMLM, who have an outstanding track record of developing talented clinical leaders from diverse backgrounds.

“This new regional programme will provide aspiring leaders from across England with a unique opportunity to fast-track their leadership skills and gain first-hand experience working on some of the key challenges facing the NHS. It will help to raise the next generation of clinical leaders.”

Peter Lees, Chief Executive of FMLM, said: “It is a huge privilege to celebrate 10 years of running national clinical fellow schemes with an exciting new partnership with NHS England and NHS Improvement.

“A new multi-professional fellowship scheme will offer clinical professionals across England, equal access to a unique experience of working within regional offices on the new and evolving systems agenda.

“The scheme is a strong endorsement of the value FMLM and the Leadership Academy place on emerging clinical leaders and a great investment in the future. Given the links between good leadership and clinical outcomes, patients will be the ultimate beneficiaries.”

Emma Mi, a current National Medical Director’s Clinical Fellow said: “My clinical fellowship at NHS England and NHS Improvement has been one of the most fulfilling and transformative experiences of my career.

“I have seen the NHS from a new perspective and gained first-hand experience of policy development, strategic planning, collaborative and inclusive leadership.

“Most importantly, I have learnt so much about myself and unlocked my leadership potential. The skills I have developed through the fellowship will help me to become a better, more resilient and innovative clinician in the future.”


Contact: clinicalfellowscheme [at]

Quoted individuals available for further comment

About The NHS People Plan 2020/21

We are the NHS: People Plan 2020/21, along with Our People Promise, sets out what our NHS people can expect from their leaders and from each other. It focuses on how we must all continue to look after each other and foster a culture of inclusion and belonging, as well as take action to grow our workforce, train our people, and work together differently to deliver patient care. Further information and the full plan can be accessed at:

About the NHS Regional Clinical Fellow Scheme

A total of 28 Fellows will be recruited to the scheme in 2021, with four placed within each of the seven regional teams. The scheme is expected to expand to 49 Fellows in 2022 and 2023. Recruitment will open in March 2021, with the Fellows expected to take up post in September.

About FMLM:

FMLM was founded in 2011 by all the Medical Royal Colleges to inspire and promote excellence in medical leadership and drive continuous improvement in health and healthcare in the UK.  FMLM has established leadership and management standards for medical professionals and sought to encourage and support participation in leadership from all representative groups and disciplines from students to the most senior leaders, for the benefit of patient care. FMLM commits to generate and share research evidence and practical experience of how clinical leadership improves patient outcomes. 

FMLM has managed the NHS National Medical Director’s Clinical Fellow Scheme since 2011, the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer’s Clinical Fellow Scheme since 2017, and Chief Dental Officer’s Clinical Fellow Scheme since 2018.

The proposal to extend to regions complements the current national schemes and provides greater access to leadership fellowships for clinicians across the country.

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