What Does Being an NHS Non-Executive Director Involve?

Former officers make ideal NHS Non-Executive Directors, because both require excellent operational skills and a strong sense of social responsibility.

In an OA webinar, Pete Liddle, OA Business Development Manager, discussed the role of an NHS Non-Executive Director, with Janice Scanlan, Head of Non-executive Development at NHS Improvement, and Dusty Amroliwala, a retired Air Commodore and now Chair of North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust.

Opportunities
The NHS in England employs around 1.2 million people with a budget of £107 billion. There are 232 local secondary healthcare trusts, providing a wide range of acute hospital, mental health, and community based ambulance and specialist services. The largest is the new Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, with an annual turnover of over £1.4 billion per annum, and the smallest is the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, with a turnover of £45 million.

Responsibilities
The Non-Executive Directors ensure the Board acts in the best interests of patients and the public. Acting as critical friends, they hold the Board to account by challenging its decisions and outcomes. They also help the Board to formulate strategies, by bringing independent, external perspectives. Ultimately, a Non-Executive Director must be satisfied that the healthcare trust has financial and operational integrity.

A good Non-Executive Director actively supports and promotes a healthy culture for the organisation, so staff feel they are a safe point of access to the Board for raising concerns. Therefore, a Non-Executive Director needs to regularly speak with patients and staff, listening to their views and concerns.

Qualities

  • Non-Executive Directors tend to be from the local community
  • There are generally between five and seven Non-Executive Directors on a board
  • Each non-executive team has a range of senior or board level skills and experience, usually including finance, clinical or governance in either the private or public sectors
  • Others skills and experiences desired depend on the needs of the organisation, but might include organisational development, workforce management or logistics
  • Non-Executive Directors are fixed term, typically a term lasts two to three years, meaning there is a constant need for new people to take on these roles
  • Non-Executive Directors are normally required to work around 2.5 days a month, which includes preparing for and attending monthly meetings, plus undertake committee work
  • Non-Executive Directors are not employees, but are usually remunerated between £6,000 to £15,000 a year.

Watch the webinar

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