Our History


Founded in 2010 by the late Professor Aidan Halligan following his visit to the military acute medical facility in Helmand Province at the peak of the British Army’s operations in Afghanistan. There he witnessed at first hand the extraordinary teamwork, cooperation and leadership of the combined NHS and military teams.  On his return, he rapidly brought together a core team of advisors from the military, health, business and education sectors to develop a new way of training leaders in health.  

In September 2016, following 6 years of hosting by University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and with the backing of Public Health England, we established the Staff College as an independent charity to improve the quality of care for patients by working with individuals and teams nationally to strengthen and develop the skills of leaders across the healthcare community.

Our small high-level Board of Trustees provide regular oversight of the Staff College’s activities and set out strategic direction. It oversees the development of new Staff College’s programmes, ensures that existing programmes are delivered to the high standards we have established, and helps us to identify where Staff College can contribute most to the healthcare community.

Staff College Council sets our strategic direction, provides a further element of quality control over modules and programmes, and ensures Staff College is closely connected to the big issues facing the health service.

Staff College Council includes senior military representatives, people with many years of experience at the highest level in the NHS and social care, as well as practising clinicians and working senior NHS Managers. As with our Faculty this unique mixture of skills, knowledge and experience combines to help us shape  Staff College leadership modules and programmes that address the real challenges facing health service leaders today.

Our Faculty are the heart of Staff College.  They deliver our programmes to the highest standards and create the environments and experiences that our Members find so powerful.  Learning from what they experience in our programmes our Faculty use those insights and their wider experience to develop new developmental interventions to meet the leadership challenges facing the NHS.

The Staff College Faculty is composed of leaders from a wide range of disciplines with many years practical, grounded experience in delivering leadership programmes with leaders across the military, the NHS and the private sector. Our Faculty’s broadly varied perspectives have created the unique Staff College approach to leadership development. Our faculty is continually enriched by the addition of selected NHS Alumni.

Our Honorary Fellows

Staff College were thrilled to have Alwen Williams, CEO Barts Health NHS Trust present the third Aidan Halligan Memorial Lecture, ‘Leadership and Legacy – it’s personal.’ Alwen’s talk centred on the importance of inclusive leadership, living our values and the role that we all, as leaders, play in the future of our NHS.

Professor Sir Ian Kennedy – fourth Honorary Fellowship of Staff College

In November 2016, Professor Sir Ian Kennedy delivered the second Aidan Halligan Memorial Lecture, ‘Leadership in the NHS – Limits and the Role of Language.” His impassioned talk centred on the importance of the use of language, understanding the constraints within the system and the role politics plays in it. This also marked the official launch of Staff College as an independent charity.

Brigadier Kevin Beaton OBE QHP – third Honorary Fellowship of Staff College

In November 2015, Brigadier Kevin Beaton delivered the first Annual Aidan Halligan Memorial Lecture, ‘The need for an NHS Staff College – a military medical perspective.” He gave a very powerful, and at times emotional, talk which reflected on why and how the military medical services prepare for and deal with trauma in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan and shared his first-hand experience of the medical response required by the Ebola crisis in West Africa. Based on over 30 years experience as a military doctor he made a compelling case for the NHS’s need for a Staff College and the critical importance of coherent leadership development for leaders throughout healthcare.


Duncan Selbie photo

Duncan Selbie – second Honorary Fellowship of Staff College

In autumn 2014, Staff College were privileged to host Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of Public Health England for the second Annual Staff College Leadership lecture. Duncan gave an amusing and thought provoking talk during which he reflected on the challenges faced by PHE specifically and the NHS more generally. He endorsed the importance of good leadership at every level of any organisation and the significant contribution the Staff College makes in supporting leaders throughout the healthcare community.

Sir Robert Francis QC – first Honorary Fellowship of Staff College

In autumn 2013, Sir Robert Francis QC, who headed the inquiry into failures at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, delivered the first Annual Staff College Leadership lecture. In his report Sir Robert had identified failures in leadership as a critical contributory factor to the widespread  failures in patient care at that hospital. He also recommended the establishment of an NHS Staff College.  At the end of his lecture he accepted the first Honorary Fellowship of the NHS Staff College.