This Is Your Chance to Run the NHS ; the National Health Service Is Seeking New Managers - Particularly Private Sector Executives Experienced in Leadership, Reports Sarah Richardson

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IF YOU'RE a high-flier interested in moving into working for the public sector but are unsure about how to go about it and how your skills would transfer, a management recruitment programme run by the National Health Service could be the answer.

Gateway to Leadership takes talented senior managers, already leaders in their field, and gives them the opportunity to use their skills and experience in making a difference. The idea is that your abilities and knowledge will complement those of the NHS's existing management teams and widen its managerial skills base at senior level, putting the organisation in a more robust position for the future.

The NHS is one of the world's largest publicly funded health services and the largest employer in Europe, with more than 700 trusts and organisations to its name. In fact, its dimensions are staggering: with an annual budget of Pounds 110 billion, it employs more than 1.3 million people, including some 90,000 hospital doctors, 35,000 general practitioners (GPs), 400,000 nurses and 16,000 ambulance staff. All of the UK's 60 million residents are able to take advantage of services that are free at point of use.

The Gateway programme, in partnership with independent heath think tank The King's Fund, strategic consultancies Cumberlege Connections and Frontline, offers a comprehensive development package of 25 days' development over a two-year period. This includes executive coaching, peer action learning sets and a 15-day modular residential development programme.

Your first six months in-post includes an orientation programme which offers exposure to all areas of your local health economy. You'll play a leading role in its design, maximising your understanding of NHS service delivery, working with patients and staff groups, as well as meeting with other healthcare organisations.

Dorothy Hosein, head of strategy and service redesign for Barnet and Chase Farm NHS Trust, joined the NHS via the Gateway to Leadership programme.

"The NHS interested me as a career move as I wanted to use my years of business experience in the private sector in a healthcare environment and potentially make a difference," she says. "I had experience of the NHS in a number of different ways: as a nonexecutive director of an NHS community trust, helping businesses gain entry into the NHS market and being married to a medical consultant for many years."

Although Dorothy had never seriously considered working for the public sector until she applied for the Gateway programme, she was attracted by the opportunity to join the NHS at senior level.

"If I'd applied directly I wouldn't have got this opportunity," she says. "My role means I have a very broad network of contacts both internally and externally. I report directly to the director of performance, planning and partnership and I frequently interact with the executive team including our CEO. I also work very closely with the general managers, business managers and clinical personnel at all levels.

"Externally, I am in frequent contact with the PCTs and I have had a great deal of contact with key review bodies such as the Independent Reconfiguration Panel. I am a very committed individual and I really enjoy making a difference and adding value to whatever organisation I work for. I would really hope that I can become an effective leader within the NHS and becoming a CEO would probably be my ultimate goal. However, working as an effective director making a real difference would also be very satisfying."

Clare Morris, also went through the programme after an impressive and varied career which included training as an accountant, taking an MBA at the Judge Institute at Cambridge University and working as a generalist spanning a range of sectors and countries. …