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Developing systems leadership in public health: A scoping report

Bolden, Richard; Evans, David; Jarvis, Carol; Mann, Richard; Patterson, Malcolm; Thompson, Elinor

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Richard Bolden
Dir of Res Ctr - Ldrship & Behav Change

David Evans
Professor in Health Services Research

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Carol Jarvis
Professor in Knowledge Exchange, Public and Business Engagement and Innovation

Richard Mann

Malcolm Patterson

Elinor Thompson


This document reports the outcomes of a scoping project commissioned by Public Health England (PHE) in order to outline possibilities for developing the systems leadership capacity of public health registrars and newly appointed consultants. It has been written for those involved in the design, delivery and accreditation of training and professional development for public health registrars and consultants across the UK in order to support the upscaling of systems leadership development opportunities within the sector.

The project was undertaken by a multi-disciplinary team based at the University of the West of England, drawing on the expertise of the Bristol Leadership and Change Centre and the Centre for Public Health and Wellbeing as well as a number of independent consultants with backgrounds in leadership and organisation development and public health. The methodology involved consultation and engagement with a range of stakeholders with extensive experience of the public health landscape in the UK, including 10 registrars, 2 consultants, 3 directors of public health, 3 PHE managers/board members, 3 Faculty of Public Health (FPH) managers/board members, 4 heads of school/postgraduate deans, and 4 other UK-based public health professionals, through interviews, a focus group and a co-design workshop.

Building on insights from the literature review and stakeholder consultation/engagement a series of principles and concepts underpinning a systems approach to leadership development are presented, along with six levels of learning, ranging from leading self to leading team/organisation, leading collaborations/partnerships, leading local systems and leading wider system/across systems. These principles are then used to outline an indicative development framework for public health professionals through the five years of the specialty training programme (as registrar) into the years following qualification (as consultant). Three distinct phases of learning/development are outlined, along with indicative content and learning outcomes.

The report concludes with a series of 18 recommended actions, grouped into four thematic areas. It is hoped that this document provides a valuable resource for those involved in the development and accreditation of public health professionals and a timely call to action.


Bolden, R., Evans, D., Jarvis, C., Mann, R., Patterson, M., & Thompson, E. (2019). Developing systems leadership in public health: A scoping report

Report Type Project Report
Publication Date Jun 13, 2019
Deposit Date Jun 13, 2019
Publicly Available Date Jun 13, 2019
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
ISBN 9781860435546
Keywords systems leadership, public health, complexity, registrars, consultants, system change
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