Medical Leadership

The NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement commissioned HSMC to carry out two reviews in support of the Enhancing Engagement in Medical Leadership project.

Research design

The first review was a rapid survey of experience in a number of countries of arrangements for medical leadership and the training and support provided to doctors in leadership roles. Experts in these countries were commissioned to write papers for the review, and these were discussed at a workshop in May.

The papers were subsequently revised and edited, and a full report on this work can be accessed on the NHS website

The second review focused on the literature on medical leadership. The review sought to examine the use of the term medical engagement and the existence of any empirical evidence for its linkage to organisational or clinical aspects of performance. It also reviewed approaches to the measurement of levels of medical engagement in leadership. In addition, the review examined research on experience in the NHS of involving doctors in leadership.

Second Review: 'Engaging Doctors in Leadership: Review of the literature (pdf; 454KB; opens in new window).


The key findings from these two reports are brought together in a summary document 'Engaging doctors in Leadership: What can we learn from international expeience and research evidence?' (pdf; 196KB; opens in new window). This summary concludes that the NHS has an opportunity to learn from international experience to become an exemplar in medical leadership and its development. However, the education and development of doctors as leaders needs to be linked to appropriate incentives and career structures, and reward and recognition for those taking on leadership roles.

Date: 2007
Researcher: Chris Ham and Helen Dickinson (
Funder: NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement