Clinical Leadership Program


The ultimate aim of the program is to build a cohort of clinical leaders with the skills and commitment to shape a sustainable culture of patient safety, professionalism and positivity within the NSW health system.

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 Clinical Excellence Commission (CEC) believes that the power of clinical leadership is an essential component of the CEC’s commitment to improving patient safety and clinical quality in our healthcare system. Clinical leaders play a pivotal role in the patient safety and clinical quality environment and need to have their full potential harnessed to ensure the health system works better and more safely for staff, patients and their families. In this, the program supports clinicians to develop extraordinary leadership practice. 


The CEC Clinical Leadership Program (CLP) comprises two separate but related formats, delivered on an annual basis.

The Executive CLP is directed towards senior clinicians who have responsibility for leading programs and teams at an LHD or sector/network/department level. The program is delivered centrally in Sydney via modular workshops and participants are required to complete a high-level clinical improvement project as part of the program. Enrolment is facilitated with LHD executive sponsors, with a maximum of 40 participants per intake across the state.

The Foundational CLP is delivered statewide and covers the fundamental aspects of leading improvement initiatives within the NSW health system. The program is based on uniform statewide content which is designed to be delivered and adapted locally by LHD based facilitators, who link in to a CEC-coordinated program for resource and program support. Experiential and multidisciplinary in nature, it is directed towards clinical staff leading teams who are committed to improving patient safety and quality within a person-centred approach. Participants are supported to design and implement a local, team-based improvement project as part of the program.  

Both formats have an integrated framework that incorporates knowledge of self, others, systems and clinical practice improvement methodologies. Key distinctions between the two are the mode of delivery and the scope of improvement project. Both are designed to recognise and nurture talent and interaction between participants from each format is encouraged.


The first CLP cohorts commenced in January 2007 and to date over 2000 participants have completed the Clinical Leadership Program. Interest in both programs has increased steadily, with annual intake now exceeding 200 in the Foundational program and 80 in the Executive program. Retention levels are positive, with less than 5% from the Executive program and around 10% withdrawals in the Foundational program.


The CEC program was developed in extensive consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, to ensure it did not duplicate or work in isolation of other related programs.  This included Area directors of nursing, workforce development, clinical governance and clinical operations; Area chief executives; Chief Nursing Officer; Chief Allied Health Officer; CEC Clinical Council; NSW Institute for Medical Education and Training (IMET); professional Colleges; Departments of Health / Quality Councils in Victoria, South Australia and Queensland; Institute for Innovation and Improvement, NHS (UK); The Advisory Board, Washington; university providers of executive short courses; providers of e-learning programs; and senior medical clinicians.

In implementing the CEC Clinical Leadership Program, additional partnerships and networks have been forged, particularly among other jurisdictions looking to implement clinical leadership programs of their own. 

Local partnerships have also been strengthened within and between Local Health Districts, including between learning and development, clinical operations and clinical governance, and between participants, including Ambulance staff involved in programs.  These steps help promote an integrated health system where ‘we are all responsible for patient safety’.

All LHDs and NSW Ambulance Service are currently participating in the Executive format of the CLP. LHDs providing the Foundational CLP are: Illawarra Shoalhaven, Hunter New England, Northern NSW, Southern NSW, Nepean Blue Mountains, Northern Sydney, Western NSW, South Eastern Sydney, Western Sydney, Murrumbidgee, Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health, Central Coast, Western Sydney and Mid North Coast.

Key Dates

August 2017

Applications for the 2017 Executive CLP - Cohort 19, commencing on Wednesday 16 August are now being sought via local health districts and specialty networks.

Pilot Sites

Implementation Sites


Enrolment levels and feedback from participants indicate the program fulfils a previously unmet need in the health system, and that benefits are evident at individual, organisational and system levels.

The CEC Clinical Leadership Program was formally evaluated by an external consultant at the end of 2008, with a number of positive outcomes reported including:

  • the concept of a CEC CLP was strong
  • the content of the Program was well aligned to participants’ needs
  • the expectations of participants and other stakeholders were exceeded in many cases
  • the outcomes of the Program have resulted in improvements in clinical processes and systems due to the leadership behaviours of participants
  • the Program has been attributed by some participants as contributing significantly to their decision to remain working in NSW Health
  • the Program has had a significant and positive effect on the working (and in some cases personal) relationships of those involved in it as participants. The impact of this on the teams they interact with resulted in a sense of efficacy for stakeholders.

To read the complete Evaluation Report go to:

Both programs are evaluated annually by surveying participants.

Related Initiatives

Further Details


Wendy Jamieson
Senior Manager, Quality Improvement Academy
02 9269 5500

Page Top | Added: 2 June 2014 | Last modified: 9 November 2015

Wendy Jamieson
Senior Manager, Quality Improvement Academy
02 9269 5500