Publication - Advice and guidance

Being Effective - What NHS Non-Executive Directors Need to Know

Published: 4 Nov 2015
Part of:
Health and social care

Resource booklet for NHSScotland Board Members, with an interest in governance.

36 page PDF

323.8 kB

36 page PDF

323.8 kB

Being Effective - What NHS Non-Executive Directors Need to Know
Learning and Development

36 page PDF

323.8 kB

Learning and Development

Whilst all Non-Executive Directors of NHS Boards will meet the essential criteria for the role, they will all join with different levels of knowledge, understanding and experience of what the role actually entails. It is therefore important that, following induction, Non-Executive Directors think about their skill set and what they might still need to develop.

Development plan and appraisal

All Non-Executive Directors should have an annual performance appraisal with the Chair of the NHS Board. In addition to this, it is good practice for Non-Executives to have regular discussions with their NHS Board Chair to discuss development and skills gaps throughout the year.

It is important to remember that development comes in different forms. Not all development opportunities will be formal courses. There is much to be gained from ‘learning on the job’, setting up informal shadowing opportunities and practical experience. Development activities can be tailored by individual NHS Boards in accordance to individual needs.

Networking and events

There are opportunities for Non-Executive Directors to network and share experiences. There is an established network for those who are involved in clinical governance, facilitated by NHS Healthcare Improvement Scotland. Providing networking opportunities has been made a priority for future work of the NHS Board Chair’s Quality Portfolio Group.

Social directory

Everyone with an Athens username is encouraged to complete their profile on the Knowledge Network’s social directory People Connect, Use this service to make connections with people, exchange information and share knowledge. The NHSScotland mentoring system also uses this platform.

Further information

Other resource booklets available or in development for Non-Executive Directors in this series are:

  • Good Governance
  • Data Measurement and Improvement Science
  • Quality, Efficiency and Value
  • Innovation
  • Health Inequalities

What Non-Executive Directors can do to support their own learning and development

  • Be pro-active and consider your own learning and development needs.
  • Make sure you have regular discussions with the NHS Board Chair about your performance, not just at appraisal.
  • Seek out development opportunities – if you want to shadow a more experienced
    Non-Executive Director or visit another NHS Board, ask for this to be arranged.

Summary table of resources

Governance for Quality Healthcare in Scotland: An Agreement, NHSScotland

NHS Trust Development Authority, role description and competency framework

On Board, a guide for board members of public bodies in Scotland, 2015, Scottish Government

7 Principles of public life, 1995

The Healthy NHS Board 2013 Principles for Good Governance, NHS Leadership Academy

The Good Governance Standard for Public Services, 2004, The Independent Commission on Good Governance in Public Services

Effective behaviour in the boardroom, 2013, The Kings Fund (online)

What makes a board effective, 2013, The Kings Fund (online)

The Health Management Library

The National Leadership Unit

Appreciating the Problem – The Role of Appreciative Inquiry in Problem-Solving– (requires and NHSScotland Athens username)

The Intelligent Board 2010: patient experience, 2010, Cornwell, Jocelyn

Credibility and Professionalism – (requires and NHSScotland Athens username)

Healthcare Environment Inspection Reports – Healthcare Improvement Scotland

Board Level Measurement of Quality: Findings of a 90 day process, 2013, Healthcare Improvement Scotland

Quality Improvement: Sustainable in any culture?, 2013, Healthcare Improvement Scotland

Introduction to Measurement for Improvement eLearning

Negotiating and Influencing – (requires and NHSScotland Athens username)

Communication skills – (requires and NHSScotland Athens username)

Corporate Needs Analysis Project Checklist – (requires and NHSScotland Athens username)

How-to Guide: Governance Leadership (Get Boards on Boards) [online], 2012 [cited 2012 Oct 19], Institute for Healthcare Improvement

Power of Having Boards on Board (online), Institute for Healthcare Improvement

Healthcare Leadership Model: The nine dimensions of leadership behaviour, (online), 2013, NHS Leadership Academy

Nolan Principles of Public Life

Delivering quality through leadership: NHSScotland leadership development strategy [online], 2012 [cited 2012 Oct 19], Scottish Government


Email: Sarah Hildersley