Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust


As part of a new leadership framework and curriculum, the trust is developing an in-house coaching and mentoring service to support leaders with their personal and professional development. The Trust wishes to offer a qualification in coaching and mentoring skills to interested staff in return for a commitment to take on one or two clients per year from people on the leadership pathway.

The stated goals are:

  • Improve appraisals and objective setting.
  • To be a competent coach or mentor with formal clients

Participants are invited from all roles, eg manager, doctors, clinicians etc. The Trust’s values feature and are embedded throughout the training:

Positively – welcoming
Actively – respectful
Clearly – communicating
Visibly – reassuring


We designed and delivered:

  • 5 days of training spread over 2+2+1 modules, with at least 6 weeks’ in between each module.
  • Practise assignments in between each module where participants could work together to explore and embed the skills, and start using the skills in their workplace
  • A 60 page manual


The course is running at regular intervals at the Royal Free, with participants attending from all areas including CEO levels, consultants, managers, clinicians and other staff. The popularity is such that the courses have been opened to similar participants, including CEO level, from Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, and Barts Health NHS Trust. One outstanding result is the account below from a Consultant who found that using a coaching approach helped to save a baby’s life:

“I would like to give a real life example of the power of this open and inclusive approach to team management. Late at night I was working on the intensive care unit (I am an intensive care doctor) and we, the team, were struggling with an extremely sick baby; the nurses that were looking after the baby with me were attending to drawing up some drugs for the baby while I continued to try and keep the baby stable, despite my best efforts the baby was gradually getting worse to the point I feared that we might lose her. Another nurse who was not directly involved with the care of this baby was heading for her break but noticed that the baby was in difficulty and came over to ask if I needed any help, in my mind I was running through all the possible options which I thought might help the situation, but none of my actions seemed to be working. Without thinking I asked the nurse what she felt might help, I think I might not have done this previously or at least not in such an open way. She made a suggestion that I initially discarded but then explored with her further, the result of our short conversation resulted in a change in treatment for the baby that resulted in a stabilisation of her condition and ultimately contributed to saving her life. This may sound dramatic but I truly believe that my open questioning helped the team manage a potentially disastrous situation.” – Tim Wickham Consultant paediatrician, Royal Free

“I cannot express enough how grateful I am for the opportunity to be part of this training programme. After just 2 days of training, I have been able to utilise the skills and found I have completely changed my approach to management.
I was able to apply the skills immediately upon my return to work to help a member of my team work through a particular problem she was having managing another member of staff. I have also used the skills to support a colleague, who I noted had come off a particularly difficult telephone call, was clearly frustrated and stuck for a solution. I have also used the skills in a team meeting to gain feedback from the team on how they felt the meeting went, and what if anything could be improved.
It has been incredibly rewarding to help colleagues to work through solutions themselves, and to have been in a position to offer help and support. I also sought feedback to understand how my approach was received, as none of these staff members were aware I had taken a coaching approach when they were speaking with me. The feedback was positive and only spurred me on more to work on the skills.
The coaching skills principles (GROW model), are easy to apply to a myriad of situations that I have found myself in (including speaking to a friend about a personal problem he had whilst in the pub!).
I have since discussed this programme with a number of colleagues and could not recommend the training highly enough. I cannot recall any other training that has had such a profound an immediate impact on me as this programme, and I eagerly await the next part of the training.” – Lanre Fatuga, Operations Manager Trauma & Orthopaedics, Therapy Services and Pain Management, Royal Free