€1.4m funding for healthcare leadership model research

Posted February 10, 2016

  • Research aims to give health staff more leadership within hospital teams
  • New strategy is departure from traditional top-down methods of management

Research led by UCD on developing teams in the health service as dynamic leadership groups has received €1.4 million from the Health Research Board.

Teams at different levels of the Ireland East Hospital Group will take part in Collective Leadership and Safety Cultures (CO-LEAD) – a five-year research programme.

The research seeks to improve patient safety by giving individual members of staff more autonomy and leadership within hospital teams.

Collective leadership requires the distribution of leadership to those with the most relevant expertise, capability and motivation for the task at hand.

It also focuses on improving how staff members interact with each other to augment the benefits of positive working relationships.

The new leadership strategy is a departure from traditional top-down methods of management.

"The overall aim [of CO-LEAD] is to support quality and safety cultures through the development of a new model of healthcare leadership," said Professor Eilish McAuliffe, UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems and principle investigator of CO-LEAD.

"Traditional approaches focus on the development of the individual as a leader, but successful innovation seems to centre on distributing leadership and giving more agency to teams.

"This represents a radical shift from current practice and is an entirely necessary one if hospital groups are to function effectively as networked structures."

Prof McAuliffe will be joined by UCD colleagues Dr Marie Galligan, UCD School of Medicine, and Dr Marie Ward, School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems.

Four collaborators from Trinity College Dublin, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, the Health Service Executive and a senior researcher complete the team. Six PhD students will conduct their research within the programme.

The research will be undertaken in partnership with the Ireland East Hospital Group, the Health Service Executive and a team from The King's Fund in the United Kingdom, which is carrying out similar research.

The Health Research Board is the lead agency supporting health research in Ireland. It provides funding, maintains health information systems and conducts research linked to national health priorities.

By: Jonny Baxter, digital journalist, UCD University Relations