About Us

Our Ambition and Purpose

In Leeds our ambition is that we are the best place to learn and work whatever your age. Working together, we are providing opportunities for skills, jobs and wealth creation, engaging and recruiting those in our most disadvantaged communities and inspiring the next generation health and care workforce. This will ensure we have the highly diverse, skilled workforce we need to work with the people of Leeds, now and in the future. ​

Our Priorities

The Academy is a key partner in responding to the city’s workforce challenges and our programmes have been developed under five key priorities:

Talent pipeline: initiatives which support entry and progression through educational pathways

System leadership, culture and change: A range of activity and products which develop skills and behaviours underpinning integrated care

Health and care practice: sharing and advancing leading practices across organisational boundaries

Digital, data and technology: developing capabilities and competencies which advance health and care

Essential learning: sharing and developing training for health and care

How we work

Our delivery model is based around four pillars:

1Co-design and co-deliver bespoke Leeds educational and development programmes


2Coordinate and procure shared learning and development on behalf of the city


3Build capacity and capability for Organisational Development and change at system-level


4Advance digital, data, informatics
and business intelligence within the workforce



Co-design and co-deliver bespoke Leeds educational and development programmes



Coordinate and procure shared learning and development on behalf of the city



Build capacity and capability for Organisational Development and change at system-level



Advance digital, data, informatics
and business intelligence within the workforce


Across all our programmes, we have the goal of reducing inequalities and optimising the Leeds pound.

Our Achievements

Some of our 2020/21 highlights…

Adapting to virtual delivery


of attendees feel more confident/knowledgeable about the tools available to increase engagement in a virtual environment


of attendees would recommend the programme to a friend/colleague


of attendees report that they will do something different as a result, including:

Academy reach – organisational participation 2020/21

Our Team

Kate O’Connell

Kate O’Connell: Director of Leeds Strategic Workforce & Health and Care Academy

Kate holds a unique post across the Health and Care sector in Leeds, a partnership role providing leadership for the city’s One Workforce ambition. A Fellow of the CIPD, she also holds qualifications in Strategic Management, Leadership Coaching, and Civil Mediation, and has a strong interest in systems development and organisational psychology. Kate has led significant transformation agendas during her career in the Health and Education sectors, focussing on developing and connecting aspirations, skills and opportunities for students, workforce and communities.

Veena Murray

Veena Murray: Head of Academy

Veena combines a strategic development role with operational responsibilities for overseeing the Academy’s programmes of work. Prior to moving into the Health and Care sector, Veena had a varied career spanning the public and private sectors and was a Founding Director of Navigate – a specialist education consultancy.

Veena has extensive experience of designing and delivering development interventions and is a qualified British Psychological Society occupational testing practitioner. Veena leads the Academy Women’s Development Programme, Springboard.

Jessica Scrimshaw: Academy Programme Manager

Jess joined the Academy in November 2020 and leads the portfolio of work across the Academy, working closely with project teams and external stakeholders to ensure the Academy’s work is responsive to the needs of the city and delivers value for money across all partners. Jess has recently led and co-ordinated the Academy’s role across the Covid Vaccination Programme.

Jess is a graduate of the NHS Management Training Scheme and has worked in a range of OD, and operational HR roles across the NHS, including acute, community and mental health trusts, as well as NHS England and NHS Employers.

Jess holds an MA in Human Resource Management and is an Associate Member of the CIPD.

Megan Darnell: Academy Development Lead

With a Masters in Psychology, Megan began her career in the retail sector and joined the NHS in 2018 developing and delivering a wide range of programmes including Corporate induction as well as leadership and team development. Megan is experienced across a range of psychometric assessment and development tools and has significant expertise in co-ordinating assessment centres for the recruitment of staff at all levels.

Megan works with OD partners across the City to identify and develop programmes of work that would benefit a “system” approach. She is Project Lead for the System Leadership Programme and the Virtual Networking Club and has been delivering training to support staff in “virtual delivery”.

Suzanne Saleh

Suzanne Saleh: Academy Development Lead

Suzanne has recently joined the Academy from NHS Digital where she was responsible for all workforce development across digital and data professions.

Suzanne has an extensive background in Organisational Development , workforce development, and diversity and inclusion. She has designed and delivered a range of projects from corporate inductions to graduate programmes. Suzanne has a passion for working with people to design solutions and will be working on the Academy’s collaborative apprenticeships programme as well as helping us shape and deliver our digital, data and technology offer.

Ruth Sykes: Academy Development Officer

Ruth is a History graduate from the University of York and joined the Academy in June 2019 as an administrator during its development phase. In 2020 she was appointed to the post of Development Officer and is the Academy lead for the city’s I Care…Ambassador programme and the Digital Apprenticeship initiative launched in September 2020 in partnership with Multiverse.

Helen Portrait

Helen Thurston: Academy Development Officer

Helen joined the team in February 2020 having previously worked in the Health Partnerships Team. Helen supports a number of Academy programmes including System Leadership and is the Academy lead for T levels and staff mobility project.

Prior to joining the Leeds Health and Care System, Helen worked in the Criminal Justice System in a range of roles working with some of the most vulnerable people within society to help them recognise and develop their potential and to make positive steps.

Zoe Merity

Zoe Merity: Administration Assistant

Zoe joined the Academy as an Administrative Assistant in April 2021 after graduating with a degree in English Literature at Newcastle University. Zoe provides support across the Academy team and the broader One Workforce Programme. She has a particular focus on supporting the Springboard women’s development programme, the I Care…Ambassadors project and the Leeds One Workforce Strategic Board.


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