What is clinical and care professional leadership?

Clinical and care professional leadership explained.

20 April 2023

The term ‘clinical and care professionals’ refers to a wide range of disciplines across health and local government partners. The work involves individuals from a broad range of roles, including:

  • nurses
  • allied health professionals
  • GPs
  • primary care clinicians
  • secondary care clinicians
  • social care
  • pathology
  • public health
  • adult and children’s services
  • healthcare scientists
  • pharmacists. [ 1 ]

Clinical and care professional leadership describes the role that these professionals play in shaping health and care systems to ensure high-quality care for all. It highlights the importance of the clinical voice at all levels of decision-making and the valuable contributions they make to improving our services.

We believe that inclusive, multi-professional clinical and care leadership is at the heart of providing high-quality integrated care and tackling health inequalities.


What can we learn from clinical commissioning groups?

On 1 July 2022, the health and care system was reorganised into 42 integrated care systems (ICSs), transitioning away from clinical commissioning groups (CCGs). A key legacy of CCGs was how they embedded clinical leadership in commissioning decision-making to drive quality improvement. We believe this empowerment of clinical and care professionals should be supported to continue in ICSs.

How can systems benefit from clinical and care professional leadership?

Empowered clinical and care leaders bring clear benefits to systems, such as:

  • improving the quality of care and patient outcomes
  • enabling more joined-up provision of care, particularly at the place level
  • embedding clinical expertise in the design and delivery of services.  

What do our members think?

This topic is a key priority for NHS Confederation members. We have produced resources with members to think about how they are embedding the clinical and care voice into their decisions, how they are developing leaders within their systems, and how they can support clinical and care professionals into becoming system leaders.

Between August 2022 and April 2023, we ran a clinical and care professional learning network, which included a broad cohort of clinicians, care professionals and appropriate non-clinical staff outside of formal leadership positions across the sector.

Its aim was to engage in the principles and ideas related to clinical and care professional leadership, as set out in national guidance, and empower professionals to drive quality improvement, service development and transformation.

The learning network identified key principles to develop strong leadership in health and care, both now and in the future. They are captured in two infographics:

Where can I find out more?


  1. 1. Thematic report from engagement events in March 2021 and mini literature review