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One Leeds workforce – the role of the Leeds Health and Care Academy

10 June 2019


image of Dr Sara Munro

Hello, my name is Sara and I’m the proud Chief Executive of Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. We provide first class mental health and learning disabilities services to people in Leeds, across the Yorkshire region and nationally too.  

I’m also the ‘senior responsible officer’ for the health and care workforce in Leeds. That means I’m leading the efforts of all our health and care partners in the city to support the development of our workforce – essential to help Leeds realise its ambition to be the best city for health and wellbeing.

We aim to do this by creating a joined up approach for the 57,000 people currently employed across health and care services, to learn and work together as if they are one city-wide team. If our plans are successful that figure will grow to over 60,000 in the next few years.

The main driving force behind us achieving our ambition is the recently-launched Leeds Health and Care Academy – a project of Leeds Academic Health Partnership (LAHP).  A core team is in place working on both our strategic workforce priorities for the city and the establishment of the Academy, led by Sheree Axon. Sheree joined us last year from NHS England where her substantive post is Director of Change and Programme Delivery.

Sheree is working closely with Jenny Lewis (Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust), Cath Roff (Director, Adults and Health at Leeds City Council) and Jo-Anne Wass (Chief Operating Officer at the LAHP).

The Academy is, we believe, a completely unique partnership bringing together health, local authority, further and higher education, and the third and independent sectors. We see it as vital to help us through the step changes needed to tackle the national and local workforce challenges, and to benefit from all the opportunities a joined-up approach brings with it.

The Leeds Health and Care Academy

This all fits nicely with the interim NHS People Plan published on 3 June, which gives our West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership a stronger mandate to lead on workforce matters because the majority of our solutions will be found locally.

Where best to launch the Academy? Washington DC of course!

As one of only two UK members of the Association of Academic Health Centers International, the LAHP was invited to showcase the Academy at its Global Issues Forum in Washington DC on 6 May.

I was privileged to present in Washington alongside Jenny Lewis, who is also the executive lead and host for the Academy. In front of us were clinical and operational directors, academics and system leaders from around the world.

As the Academy is thought to be unprecedented in scope, ambition and scale, it was a great story for the city of Leeds and its ambitions for health and wellbeing.  We set the scene with this fabulous video.

Click here to watch it.

Our presentation was very well-received. I really like the way we’ve defined our workforce transformation offer and segmented the workforce into a mixture of affiliates, associates, members, fellows and friends.

Some of the questions and comments we received from delegates really brought home how unique the Academy is. For example, people wanted to know more about:

This sense of working together to grow our own came across strongly and we also reflected the importance of working together across the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership, both to learn but also ensure we best utilise some of our more specialist and scarce experts.

Many of the discussions and presentations over the three days explored the importance of addressing the social factors of ill-health from a wider system perspective, and the opportunities with health and academia to contribute to this was a very strong theme.

We heard examples of hospitals in other countries that had invested in housing for the homeless who otherwise were frequent attenders of the emergency department.  The integration of physical and mental health was another strong theme globally.

Cultural diversity, migrant health and supporting disadvantage groups who have the worse health outcomes also featured heavily, along with supporting innovation and outward facing research initiatives that generate learning back for organisations.  All this resonates very strongly with what we are discussing and tackling here in West Yorkshire and Harrogate.

Progress so far and exciting times ahead

The Academy’s current focus is on building firm foundations for the future. It will then move into the transformational stage – looking to harness the many innovative opportunities for learning and development from research and technology.  Our university and college partners will play a key role in helping the Academy create and deliver new services, turning world-leading academic research and innovation into a reality for the workforce.

We’ve got four key themes that are driving current work.

  1. Attracting our future workforce
  2. Improving working lives
  3. Improving systems, and
  4. Improving partnerships.

Whilst the Academy only ‘went live’ in April this year, it’s already supporting a lot. For example:

And, for the 3,000 or so people who join the Leeds health and care sector every year, the Academy is supporting the spread of a citywide induction. Whichever role  or organisation someone is joining, they will understand from the start that they are part of a ‘one workforce’ culture and approach.


I will soon be meeting colleagues from  the Local Workforce Action Board to talk about how we better connect on our Leeds work on strategic workforce priorities and the work of the Academy, to the work of the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership. We want to ensure that our plans support the development of its Five Year Strategy.

These are exciting times for us all in health and care!


Dr Sara Munro is also a Leeds Academic Health Partnership board member.

This blog is republished here with the kind permission of West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership.

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