Joe Serra, Senior Lecturer, Programme Director CMI Courses, Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust, London


joe serraThe Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust is a large hospital and medical school employing approximately 5000 members of staff across multiple sites and disciplines. It’s Staff Education and Development Centre provides a wide variety of course programmes for all staff, at all levels. The Centre was given approval in 1997 to deliver a Level 3 Certificate in Management programme to both fulfil the Trust’s objectives around professional development and be in line with the initiatives of the Government.


The challenge:

In April 1996, the senior management of the Trust recognised the need to have programmes in management approved by an external organisation. They accepted that external verification was key to building acceptance and buy-in. In addition, these programmes had to be made suitable for supervisors and middle and senior managers.


As a result of the ‘management by objectives’ strategy endorsed by the CEO, Joe Serra, Course Programme Director in the Trust’s education centre, was tasked to create programmes that would emphasize modern management practices within a healthcare setting. Joe said: “We needed to develop the transferable skills that our managers could apply to a range of situations and at the same time show a commitment to developing our staff at all levels as part of our retention strategy.”


As a result, medical consultant staff, senior nursing staff and those involved in physiotherapy, radiology and other professional disciplines were given management development through the Chartered Management Institute’s Introductory Executive Diploma in Management. Depending on their experience and seniority staff were also given the opportunity to undertake Certificates at level 4 and/or Diplomas in Management at Level 5 and the senior management teams were able to study for Executive Diplomas – at Level 7. Joe believes that the variety offered when this programme began was key to long-term success. He said: “To have a true impact, the development programme had to be made available to staff at all levels.  Anything less would have diluted buy-in, created a two-tier system of staff development and would not have had the desired effect on the Trust’s performance.”

He continues: “The application of management theory to practice was also critical, as all relevant management knowledge needed to be applied by participants within their respective clinical areas.  How else could the learning be beneficial?”


Success was such that other external Institutions and organisations have sponsored and seconded senior managerial staff to undertake the management programmes at the Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust.

Through the National Health Service Executive, the Government has also commended the Royal Free for the efforts that have been placed on management development and the subsequent rating given by the Inspectorate of services was “excellent and highly commendable”. The evidence perceived by the NHS inspectorate was of “a highly skilful team with excellent management abilities”.

Surveys show that satisfaction amongst patients increased as a result of the training programme and the Trust earned a 5 star rating for excellence - the highest that can be awarded.

The on going success of the collaboration between the Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust and the Chartered Management Institute has been as a result of the support given by CMI Staff, including the External Verifiers to the Programme Director.