Our History



The Staff College: Leadership in Healthcare (Staff College) was 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 clinical military teams, formed of the very same clinicians who work in the NHS as reservists. He attributed the heightened leadership abilities he witnessed to the military’s commitment and approach to the training and leadership development of their staff and officers.

Aidan’s vision was to create a national NHS Staff College where healthcare staff could further develop their leadership understanding, skills and behaviours to enable them to lead within the complex and moral dimensions of delivering healthcare. His vision was rooted in the belief that improving the quality of leadership has the potential to transform the quality of care and experience for patients and improve the experience and opportunities for staff.

Aidan brought together a core team of faculty to develop a practical and experiential way of developing individuals’ leadership acumen. This included:

• Experienced NHS leaders with a deep understanding of the challenge and context in which healthcare must operate;
• Senior military leaders with experience of leading and influencing in complex situations as well as experience of developing future leaders and effective teams;
• Leadership coaches and academics with specialist expertise to help develop the most effective programmes.

Hear Aidan talk about what inspired him to start the Staff College


This new venture was named the ‘NHS Staff College’ and started with the support of University College London Partners, an Academic Health Sciences Network, and hosted at University College London NHS Foundation Trust. It’s first leadership development offer was the Senior Leadership Course open to multi-professional cohorts of senior leaders. This was rapidly followed by the development of programmes for leaders earlier in their careers and for leadership team development programmes for Executive Boards and healthcare teams.

In 2013, a second campus was hosted at Aintree University Hospital NHS Trust in order to provide the same opportunities for healthcare leaders in the North West.

Charity Logo

In 2016, Staff College became a national charity with an ambition to work with health and care organisation across the UK and internationally. It changed its name to better reflect its broader remit to work with healthcare providers within and beyond the NHS.

Since achieving independence and in recognition of the role of other leadership development providers within health, Staff College has forged a new role for itself. We now predominantly work in collaboration with healthcare organisations and systems to provide bespoke leadership development programmes and team coaching offers that are aligned with local development needs and ambitions.

We also use our influence with the organisations we support and through relationships with national leaders to share insights of the current reality and challenges for the teams and leaders we work with. And raise awareness of the need and benefits of developing better leaders, and the challenges to doing so.