Setting the Standard for Healthcare Excellence

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Midlands Leadership Academy Shortlisted for the 2022 HSJ Awards

We are proud to reveal that the Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority Primary Care Sponsorship programme has been shortlisted for the NHS Race Equality Award at this year’s HSJ Awards, recognising outstanding contribution to healthcare and earning the opportunity to showcase their achievements on a national platform.

The pressures faced across the healthcare sector haven’t been far from the headlines over the past 12 months – yet the quality and overriding positivity of the award entries this year highlight the enduring devotion of workers within the health and social care industry, dedicated to improving patient outcome.

HSJ Awards

A staggering 1067 entries have been received for the HSJ Awards 2022, with 219 projects and individuals making it to the final shortlist (from across 162 organisations). The high volume – and exceptional quality – of applications is once again reflecting the breadth of innovation and care within the UK’s healthcare networks.

Now in its 42nd year, the HSJ Awards continue to provide an opportunity to shine a light on the outstanding efforts and achievements that individuals and teams across the sector deliver on a daily basis.

Of the 25 categories, three are new for 2022, representing some of the recent challenges and triumphs within the NHS. These comprise new awards for Covid Vaccination Programme, Reducing Healthcare Inequalities and Performance Recovery Award.

The judging panel was once again made up of a diverse range of highly influential and respected figures within the healthcare community, including:

  • Sarah-Jane Marsh (Chief Executive, Birmingham Women’s and Children’s FT)
  • David Probert (Chief Executive, University College London Hospitals Foundation Trust)
  • Dr Bola Owolabi (Director Health Inequalities, NHS England and NHS Improvement)
  • Eugine Yafele (Chief Executive, University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust)
  • Tracy Allen (Chief Executive Officer, Derbyshire Community Health Services Foundation Trust)

Following the thorough judging process, we were shortlisted, ahead of the official awards ceremony to be held later this year (November 17th). Despite the tough competition, Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority Primary Care Sponsorship programme really stood out as a ‘success story’ worthy of a prized place on the panel’s shortlist. At this first stage of judging, the shortlist was based on ambition; outcome; value; involvement & working together and crucially, how the project might be “picked up” and replicated elsewhere for the benefit of both patients and professional colleagues.

The Programme

The Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority Primary Care Sponsorship programme breaks down systemic barriers to develop the career and leadership potential, progression, and retention of BAME women, who are under-represented in leadership roles. It addresses population health inequalities by supporting diversity in decision-making roles and building a more inclusive workforce.

80 women from BAME backgrounds in Primary Care (sponsees), are matched with senior leaders (sponsors) who use their social and political capital to advance the career of their sponsee. Sponsors and sponsees meet monthly for one year and are supported by a series of inclusive leadership development workshops and resources. 

The programme started in April 2022 and will run for 1 year, with expected improvements in equality of opportunity for progression to be demonstrated in the mid-point survey and then at end of programme evaluation March 2023. The fact that 80 BAME women signed up and wanted to be sponsored demonstrates the need from this programme, and the strong support from senior leadership (including 10 members of ICB’s) in becoming sponsors and committing a considerable amount of time, demonstrates their belief this programme will have significant positive outcomes.

The longer-term outcomes of more BAME women accessing leadership roles, and increased diversity of ICB’s addressing population health inequalities by ensuring diversity in decision-making roles will not be possible without first dismantling the barriers to progression, both internally (e.g., lack of confidence, visibility and network) and systemically (e.g., bias, un-inclusive leadership, lack of support). The programme is targeted to address both providing individual career support AND building commitment, skill and confidence in sponsors and sponsees to be inclusive leaders who can foster a more inclusive culture and working practices across the 11 ICS.

In the short-term, the programme is already providing the following benefits that will support BAME women to progress into leadership roles:

  • Creating an understanding of how to achieve progression e.g. by effective networking, enhancing visibility, negotiation etc
  • Providing access to a supportive network of peers, role models and senior sponsors
  • Creating opportunities to engage with and share lived experience – facilitating safe spaces for challenging, honest conversations around inclusion, bias, race, and gender
  • Developing empathy, understanding and a shared narrative around the nature of inclusion and how it can be fostered.

By publicly endorsing the programme, system leaders have demonstrated they want to make a difference in supporting the workforce around talent management, inclusion and increasing diversity. It has raised awareness about some of the barriers and issues BAME women face. 

The impact on sponsees has been to enhance knowledge, inspiration about what is possible, sense of belonging to a supportive network and access to support, and a positive response that leaders are committed to their development and to developing themselves as inclusive leaders:

“Thank you so much for the session! I am leaving today feeling really inspired and excited about what the future holds… I have enjoyed listening to all the speakers!”


“Joining this program has help me to realised that am not alone in the situation that I find myself in. I’m beginning to develop some confidence in the sense that I have people I can contact to connect me with the right people in case I need support.”


“The programme has been useful in bringing my focus to how I wish to navigate through the changes I currently envisage in my career path and the role networking and leadership skills may have along the way. My 1:1 session was particularly useful in bringing clarity to what my key interests and strengths were and how I could utilise my current resources to bring innovation to my goals. Having done several other leadership programmes for GPs, this has been the most inspiring and relevant so far.” 


Sponsors have appreciated the opportunity to reflect on their own leadership impact and their biases and learn from their sponsees, and are keen to proactively support the whole programme, not just their own sponsee:

“I have taken away a lot! I am learning from my sponsee, it’s a mutually beneficial relationship.”


Sustainability will be achieved by maintaining this as an ongoing annual programme, with current sponsees becoming visible role models and future sponsors for diverse talent, so the pool of sponsors and allies with inclusive leadership skills grows.             

HSJ editor Alastair McLellan, adds;

“On behalf of all my colleagues, it gives me great pleasure to congratulate the Midlands Leadership Academy on being shortlisted as a finalist in the category of the NHS Race Equality Award. All of the applications represent the ‘very best of the NHS’ and often leave our esteemed panel of judges with an impossible choice!

“Year on year the number of entrants continue to rise which I find so encouraging and is testament to the effect that HSJ Awards can have on improved staff culture and morale.

“We’re all very much looking forward to welcoming our finalists to the awards ceremony in November, celebrating their impressive achievements and jointly acknowledging our values of sharing best practice, improving patient outcomes and continuously driving for better service. But we never forget that the award ceremony is not just a celebration within a night, but a platform to recognise the hard work of all our NHS staff, all year round.”

The full list of nominees for the 2022 HSJ awards can be found here alongside details of the Awards partners. Learn more about the NHS Race Award here.

The selected winners will be announced during the awards ceremony at the Battersea Evolution Centre, London on November 17th 2022.

Wish us luck!

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