Clinical Change

Clinical Leadership Program

Categories: Australia, CEC, NSW, Programs

Clinical Leadership Program

The big idea

Strategies for sustainable patient safety and system improvement are dependent on strong clinical leadership capabilities. ‘Clinical Leadership’ occurs at all levels of patient care and refers to:

  • the process of leading a set of activities that improve the delivery of safe clinical care, and
  • the set of attributes required to lead a team, unit, stream or cluster.

Program details

2016 Clinical Leadership Program

Applications for the 2016 Executive CLP – Cohort 16, commencing on Wednesday 16 March are now being sought via local health districts / networks.

Applications must be lodged with the LHD CLP sponsor by Friday 4 December 2015.

The Executive CLP is designed for senior clinician leaders, typically at the level of head of department, clinical stream director, director of nursing, allied health director, etc. The program consists of six, two day modules over a 12 month period and will be delivered in Sydney CBD. All participants will be required to complete a Clinical Practice Improvement project. The program is capped at 40 participants per program and up to 2 nominations per LHD will be accepted for this cohort.

For further details regarding either the Executive or the Foundational Clinical Leadership Program (CLP) in participating LHDs please contact us.

Program Overview

The Clinical Leadership Program (CLP) is offered at a Foundational and Executive level. The Foundational Program is aimed at middle clinicians and managers. It uses a practice development framework and is delivered by facilitators employed in the local health districts. The Executive Program is aimed at senior clinician managers and is delivered centrally in Sydney by experts who have worked extensively in the areas of leadership, communication and professional development in a health care context. Both programs aim to improve patient safety and clinical quality through enhanced leadership practices.

The first cohorts commenced in January 2007, with 180 participants in the Foundational CLP and 30 in the Executive CLP. Since this time, interest in both programs has increased steadily, with annual intake now exceeding 200 in the Foundational CLP and 78 in the Executive CLP.

Since 2009, the program has been primarily funded by the NSW Ministry of Health, with program support from the Clinical Excellence Commission and participating local health districts.

Program Delivery

The Foundational CLP is an experiential model, delivered within local health districts by local facilitators. The program comprises four intersecting modules, which explore and build on leadership within the health setting, knowledge of self, team dynamics and process improvement. The program is multidisciplinary in nature and participants will be required to undertake a work-based improvement project, with coaching and support provided by local facilitators. It aims to enhance the capacity of clinicians to lead sustainable system improvement and patient safety initiatives; to work more effectively with available clinical information and resources; and to develop a culture of patient-centred care within an environment that supports work-based learning.

The Executive CLP targets senior clinicians who are looking to implement system improvements at the department, network or district level. It aims to enhance:

  • the understanding of clinicians about the workings of NSW Health
  • knowledge of contemporary approaches to patient safety and clinical quality systems
  • the skills of clinicians in relation to communication, conflict resolution and team leadership within an environment of health care resource limitation
  • the ability of clinicians to influence the direction of health policy, and
  • personal and professional clinical leadership skills.


The CEC Clinical Leadership Program was formally evaluated by an external consultant at the end of 2008, with a number of positive outcomes reported. The program has been subsequently evaluated on an annual basis, with a view to refining the program. The report from the external consultant is attached.

  • Evaluation of the CEC Clinical Leadership Program, Final Report, Jane Conway, June 2009 – PDF ~1.0mb


2010/11 Booklet

This book outlines the projects undertaken by participants in the 2010/2011 Clinical Leadership Program. The projects address important quality improvement initiatives in a broad range of clinical areas, including, but not limited to: mental health; children with cancer; and care of patients in emergency departments. Publication of this book has a two fold purpose. One is to present some of the clinical projects, their methods and outcomes; the other is to encourage the sharing and application of the projects more broadly throughout the health system.

  • Clinical Leadership Program Projects 2010/11 Booklet – PDF ~2.0mb

2009 Booklet

This booklet outlines the projects undertaken by participants in the 2009 Clinical Leadership Program. The projects address important quality improvement initiatives in a broad range of clinical areas, from access to service delivery, networking and redesign. In addition to highlighting the benefits of the Clinical Leadership Program to the NSW health system, it is hoped the projects will encourage others to apply the findings or develop them further.

2008 Booklet

The continuation into 2008/09 of the successful CLP, initiated in 2007, is marked again with the publication of this booklet. The aim of the program remains to build a cohort of effective clinical leaders who progressively become the “critical mass” needed for patient-centred system change.

2007 Booklet

This booklet provides a listing of the clinical improvement projects undertaken by participants in the 2007 CLP with a summary of selected projects. The projects clearly demonstrate a strong commitment to clinical practice improvement through effective clinical leadership. It provides a tool for continuing dialogue towards clinical practice improvement and potential applications for change within the health system.

Disclaimer: The Clinical Excellence Commission’s Clinical Leadership Program has no association with the Royal College of Nursing, United Kingdom (RCN, UK) Clinical Leadership Programme, represented in Australia by the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

Clinical Leadership Program program website

Contact details

Program Lead, Clinical Leadership Program
Clinical Excellence Commission
(02) 9269 5511