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Council of Deans sets out vision for health education

The Council of Deans of Health has marked its 20th anniversary by unveiling a new strategy for the coming three years – as well as its next chairman.
Brian Webster-Henderson

The Council of Deans of Health has marked its 20th anniversary by unveiling a new strategy as well as its next chair.

Mental health nurse Brian Webster-Henderson assumed the role from Dame Jessica Corner during an event in London yesterday.

The focus was also on leadership as the organisation which represents higher education establishments training health professionals across the UK launched Securing a Sustainable Future 2018-2021.

Brexit and digital transformation

Mr Webster-Henderson explained how issues such as Brexit and digital transformation will be approached by its teams working in five key policy areas:

  • Workforce influencing sustainable planning for both healthcare and academic professionals.
  • Research encouraging more research to help shape government strategies and promote more clinical academic roles for nurses.

The Council of Deans of Health has marked its 20th anniversary by unveiling a new strategy – as well as its next chair.


Brian Webster-Henderson is the new chair of the Council of Deans. Picture: Mark Hakansson

Mental health nurse Brian Webster-Henderson assumed the role from Dame Jessica Corner during an event in London yesterday.

The focus was also on leadership as the organisation – which represents higher education establishments training health professionals across the UK – launched Securing a Sustainable Future 2018-2021.

Brexit and digital transformation

Mr Webster-Henderson explained how issues such as Brexit and digital transformation will be approached by its teams working in five key policy areas:

  • Workforce – influencing sustainable planning for both healthcare and academic professionals.
  • Research – encouraging more research to help shape government strategies and promote more clinical academic roles for nurses.
  • Regulation – driving outcome-focused and risk-based reform of higher education institutions.
  • Global – sharing information and cooperation worldwide particularly after the UK leaves the EU.
  • Education impact – engaging with government to measure quality of higher education including delivery of digital agendas and promoting leadership.

First Scottish dean

Mr Webster-Henderson spoke of feeling ‘extremely privileged’ at becoming the first Scottish dean to be elected chair of the organisation – and the first in its history not to come from England.

He added: ‘There is a great deal of political unrest at the moment, so it means we’ve got to be on our toes as an organisation and push our voice in lots of different ways to ensure we protect the graduate health workforce.’

The event also featured a discussion on leadership, in which the chief nursing officer for Wales Jean White spoke of the need for nurses to be politically aware.

She said: ‘Politics is driving health policies apart from one another so it is on us to ensure consistency in the profession.

‘We don’t know what Brexit will mean, but we will know it will be a challenge given we are already facing an international shortage of healthcare workers.

Challenge behaviours

‘The positive will be that we nurses have an opportunity to challenge traditional behaviours, but the downside is a further shortage has the potential to do real harm to patients.

‘We have to start helping people to make better life choices, put them at the centre of what we do and drop the dictatorial “we know best” approach.’

Professor White closed by urging nurses and other health workers to ensure they are at the table when political matters are discussed and added: ‘If there isn’t a seat there then feel free to bring your own chair.’


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