Non Executive Directors - the NHS unsung and unsupported heroes...

25 May 2016

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Talk to any NED in the NHS and you will hear a similar story - 'we are doing this to contribute something to the NHS, in which we passionately believe; we are committed to improving patient care; we are more than prepared to be held to account providing that is fair reasonable and recognises that there are limitations in the policy and resource context in which we operate (ambiguity in policy, increasing scarcity of resource, and misaligned incentives across the systems in which we have to work)'.

You may also hear, that many came in to these roles after failures in the care of their friends and families, after which they chose to work with the system to ensure others didn't have a similar fate...

In short, the typical NED is passionate, constructively engaged, committed to improve care for all, resilient, and most of all, brings talents and experiences into the NHS for very little financial reward. They are generally very good, and they care.

So having established that, let's pause for a moment to see what support we are giving our NEDS in the jobs they have taken on... I can go back long enough to remember the days when the NHS, through varying forms of regional organisation, ran training programmes for NEDS and ensured that they were able to network regularly, and to share experience and best practice...but that now seems a long time ago.

And as a consequence the very people we need to help us improve, to assure and govern in a manner that adds value to every clinical transaction, seem to receive less support and encouragement than ever. It's become more lonely and more difficult... Especially when you add in the complexity of working to govern their institution but in a world where systems based working supersedes the individual organisational interests and has to be conducted without the benefit of any shared jurisdiction.

So that is why PwC is offering a leadership development programme for NEDS, allowing them to attend as many or as few sessions as they wish, depending on the topic and their time. It is a programme that will look at whole system governance, lessons on how to avoid failure, understanding the new inspection regime, forming new provider alliances and it will even provide the chance to influence the national ALB architecture to better support local organisations.

It's free and it's available to book onto now, so don't miss out. You will be more than welcome.

Mike Farrar, Chair of PwC's Public Sector Health Board
Email Mike Farrar