Health Education England

Aspiring Chief  Executive Programme


The role of the provider chief executive has never been more important. How we appoint to such posts – and help our chief executives to be successful ‘in role’ – is one of the NHS’s most important leadership issues.

The Aspiring Chief Executive programme is a collaboration between the NHS Leadership Academy, Monitor, Trust Development Authority (TDA) and NHS Providers. It forms part of a fully resourced, strategic response to the challenge of how we identify, develop and deploy our most senior leaders. Together, these four organisations will design and deliver a programme to prepare those with the potential to become chief executives in the next 12-24 months. As well as providing exceptional development, the programme will also assess your readiness to take up these demanding roles. Successful completion will lead to an NHS Leadership Academy Award.

The design is underpinned by wide support across the provider network and input from serving chief executives across the system. They answered two key questions: what do you wish you’d known and how do you wish you’d been prepared for your role?

The programme is intended to not only develop leaders who can lead their own organisation to a high standard – it will also place clear emphasis on working within a complex and increasingly integrated health economy.  In line with the Five Year Forward View (5YFV), it will also provide you with the knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours to play a full role in reshaping care systems to provide new, sustainable models of care based on patient need.

We’re looking for 14 aspiring chief executives to prepare for some of the most vital roles in the NHS.

This world class 12 month programme will be delivered by the NHS Leadership Academy, building on our current expertise and knowledge of our existing programmes such as Nye Bevan.

Who should apply

The Aspiring Chief Executive programme is intended for:

  • Individuals who aspire to be Chief Executive of provider trust organisations within the next 12-24 months.
  • The programme will help prepare individuals for the weight and responsibility associated with a highly demanding Chief Executive role.
  • Individuals who want to take the next step to lead provider trusts at a system wide level.

Applicants are likely to be serving executive directors (of any discipline) with provider trust experience.

Applicants must have the support of their current chief executive in order to undertake the programme; both in terms of release time to attend and allowing for opportunity to apply the learning from the programme within the organisation and local health system.

How to apply

To apply please send:

  • A full CV detailing your education and professional qualifications and full employment history. Please ensure this includes daytime and evening contact details which will be used with discretion.
  •  A supporting statement (of no more than 2 sides A4) outlining why you wish to become an NHS chief executive. The experience, knowledge, skills, personal qualities and behaviours that will enable you to become a successful Chief Executive and what you hope to get out of the programme. Please refer to the participant criteria for guidance. Please also ensure that you inform us of any dates you may be unavailable for correspondence in November.
  • All candidates are also requested to complete an equal opportunities monitoring form. The information will be treated as confidential and is for monitoring purposes only; it will not form part of the application process.
  • Please complete and return the signed declaration to confirm your Chief Executive’s support for your participation on the programme.

All forms are available on the NHS Leadership Academy website. All of the above must be submitted in order to be considered. Applications should be sent to


The aim of the programme is to prepare you for your first chief executive role and support you through exceptional development. The structure and delivery of the programme will mirror the chief executive role. It will assess whether or not you’re fit, ready and capable of taking up the role.

The values, behaviours, role modelling, and personal insight of being a leader will feature alongside governance, strategy, policy and systems leadership.

The focus of the programme will be on the national and local systems and communities, i.e. much wider than just leading one’s own organisation. Patient care and staff engagement are the golden threads and central to programme delivery and there will be full involvement from a wide range of stakeholders at local, regional and national level in recruitment, selection, delivery and assessment.

Learning delivery will follow the Academy’s programme philosophies: rich and engaging content delivered (efficiently) online, face to face time dedicated to sense making, real application throughout, relevant and targeted assessment processes, and connections with other senior leaders. Each participant will work with a senior national sponsor to identify a project to lead.

To arrange a call with our executive programme director, Chris Lake, please contact Rob Green in the programme team. You can contact Rob on 0113 322 5699 or email

The Aspiring Chief Executive programme: Participant experience