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Programme Director - Design

South West Academic Health Science Network
Exeter, Devon
£65,000-£75,000 (depending upon experience) plus pension and other benefits.
Closing date
8 Aug 2021

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Design & Creative, Other
Job Function
Programme Director, Project Manager, Senior Project Manager
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The opportunity

Programme Director - Design

Full-time or part-time (minimum 0.8 FTE), permanent

The Overview

Can you lead the design and development of complex programmes to improve health equity? Are you passionate about building high quality programme governance and portfolio management?

We are looking for a senior programmes professional; who can use their passion and expertise in designing, mobilising and delivering service transformation; to deliver end user and workforce benefits.

In 2013 a small group of founding member organisations established the South West Academic Health Science Network. They were motivated by a shared ambition to accelerate the adoption and spread of innovation across our region to improve population health and generate economic growth.

Step forward eight years and that ambition has become a reality. Working in collaboration with the AHSNs across England, our work transforms lives through innovation. In the last year, our work as a network of AHSNs has benefited over 258,000 people and leveraged over £462m of investment into the health and life science sector. You can read more about the impact of our work nationally in our latest AHSN Network impact report and regional work in our annual review.

At the South West AHSN we focus our efforts on improving health equity – identifying and spreading innovative practice that helps close health equity gaps in access to care, quality of care, opportunity for a healthy life and agency in managing individual health.

Working with our members and partners, we share the ambition and opportunity to improve health equity through the adoption and spread of innovative practice. We do this by:

  • Spreading innovative practice across the health and care system through collaboration, practical support and knowledge sharing
  • Building capability in our region to spread innovative practice and improve quality
  • Supporting evaluation and application of learning to improve the delivery of health and care services

Our Programme Directors are part of our Programmes business function and report to our Director of Programmes, who forms part of our executive team. They work collaboratively with peer Directors to matrix manage a team of 25-30 programmes staff, associates and clinical leads, alongside wider South West AHSN resource, to design and deliver our portfolio of national and regional programmes.

Our existing programme portfolio is broad. Current commissions include programmes to identify and spread proven innovation in partnership with NHS England, improve patient safety through our commission with NHS Improvement, and to support the uptake of innovation from the life science sectors in the health and care system with the Office of Life Sciences.

Our new strategy will bring greater focus to our work. During the last year we’ve worked with our team, network members and our Board to identify the overarching theme that will provide that focus – health equity.

The Programme Director – Design, will play a critical role in helping us to achieve the aims of our new strategy by improving health equity through innovation. They are responsible for leading the design, development and mobilisation of our portfolio of regional health equity programmes focused on tackling specific health equity gaps in access to care, quality of care and individual opportunity and agency in achieving a healthy life. They will also lead programmatic interventions for new and emerging partnership opportunities.

They will work in partnership with colleagues from across the organisation and alongside our partners throughout the health and care system, to build experimental, outcome-led programmes that deliver impact in the region and have the potential for national adoption and spread through the AHSN Network.


Role profile:

Our Programme Director – Design is responsible for leading the design and delivery of a portfolio of complex programmes, and for the continuous improvement of our programmes assurance system.

Our strategy is focused on closing health equity gaps.  This role is responsible for leading the design, development and mobilisation of regional health equity programmes in service of our strategy.  The programmes are experimental and complex in nature, requiring a portfolio approach that seeks to generate local impact in our region, and identify projects and interventions with the potential for national adoption and spread.

Our growth ambitions will see the development of programmatic opportunities with new and emerging partners, which will also draw on the experience of the Programme Director – Design.

In addition, the role is responsible for leading the development and management of our programme governance and assurance.

Key success factors

  • Leading programme design – proven ability to lead a portfolio of multi-year, multi-organisational, complex programmes with a focus on impact.
  • Leading people – effective people manager, with a proven ability to motivate and develop others.
  • Influencing – ability to influence and persuade stakeholders of all levels using effective stakeholder management and communications skills.
  • Adaptable – comfortable with ambiguity, with the ability to look around problems, adapt approaches and make hard choices to achieve goals.
  • Learning mind-set – a track record working on complex issues, embedding learning into practice and generating insight to inform approaches.
  • Passion – bring a commitment to improving health equity.


  • Programme design – leadership, delivery excellence and the confidence to mentor, in the design and mobilisation of complex, multi-year programmes – designing and mobilising programmes, as well as coaching and supporting others to do this effectively. 
  • Programme delivery – the effective delivery of a portfolio of complex programmes – ensuring programmes deliver planned benefits and impact, on time and within budget.
  • Programme governance – ensure effective governance and oversight across the programmes function, in both the design and delivery phases, through to close out; ensuring lessons are captured and learned.  Lead the continuous improvement of the programmes assurance system, supporting and mentoring Programmes Team colleagues and programmes resource in the wider system.
  • People management – line manage, develop and matrix manage a diverse team of programme and project managers to ensure effective delivery of programme aims.
  • External relationships – develop, manage and influence long-term relationships with programme partners and commissioners to support programme delivery, including local NHS organisations, local authorities and health and care providers, NHS England and NHS Improvement, and other regional and national bodies.
  • Internal relationships – develop close working relationships with colleagues from across our Partnerships, Evaluation and Learning, Communications and Corporate Operations business functions.
  • Partnership development – work in collaboration with our Partnerships business function to seek and respond to opportunities for business growth.
  • Programmes Leadership Team – play an active and contributing role developing capability and capacity in our Programmes business function.
  • External engagement – represent the organisation externally, acting as an ambassador for the organisation at a local, regional and national level.

Person specification:

Experience we are looking for:

  • Working in a leadership role in innovation and improvement and/or transformational change in the health and care sector, or working in partnership with public services.
  • Designing, developing and overseeing the delivery of a complex portfolio of programmes, with quantifiable impact.
  • Co-designing and delivering programmes with the public, patients, clinical operational and commissioning teams.
  • Designing and managing high quality programme governance and assurance systems, process and methods.
  • Application of change methodologies, such as Model for Improvement, Six Sigma, or others, to deliver transformational change.
  • Managing and influencing senior stakeholder relationships to deliver improvement.
  • A track record of inspiring and managing high performing teams.
  • Evidence of continued professional development in the technical delivery of complex programmes, which could include a project management qualification from professional bodies such as the APM and PMI, or comparable industry accreditation is desirable.

Experience and capabilities you will develop in the role

  • Leading large-scale, cross-system programmes to improve health and care.
  • Designing and delivering programmes focused on improving health equity.
  • Co-designing programmes and projects with users and a range of professionals.
  • Assurance; applying a framework that supports risk mitigation, as well as enabling effective learning.
  • Building multi-partner collaborations that deliver impact across a large geography.

Abilities and attributes

  • Focus on impact – the ability to adapt and evolve approaches to achieve outcomes.
  • Ambitious – determined and resilient, sets high standards and achieves them.
  • Passionate – about innovation in health and care and engaged by our long-term ambition to improve health equity.
  • Builds trust – works collaboratively to build relationships with internal and external stakeholders.
  • Strategic thinker – ability to effectively manage a complex range of competing priorities and make hard choices to achieve goals.
  • Strong communicator – ability to communicate convincingly to a wide range of audiences.

Examples of recent work:

Annual Review -

Our Impact - Addressing health inequalities -

Specific example of the work of the Technology Enabled Care team -

Programme Director – Design

Reporting to: Director of Programmes

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