Induction approach: what NHS non-executive directors can expect from induction

This resource provides a standard approach to induction for non-executive directors of health bodies.

Non-Executive Directors: Induction Approach

This resource is one strand of a wider induction and development programme led by the NHS Chairs Group and the Corporate Business Management Team at the Scottish Government.

It was written with, and for, Non-Executive Directors of NHS Boards. However, the document and additional resources referred to within the document may also be of value to Executive Directors.

NHS Boards should consider how to use this resource in relation to their local Board development.

The Role of the Non-Executive

Non-Executive Directors’ Development Event 2014, Scottish Government


  • All members of NHS Boards are appointed by the Scottish Ministers.
  • The Board is a governing body which is collectively responsible for the success of the organisation. The Board’s role is to provide leadership of the organisation within a framework of prudent and effective controls which allow risk to be assessed and managed.
  • Boards have a duty to provide Non-Executive Directors with the necessary information and training to ensure that they are able to discharge their corporate responsibility to the highest standards.

Key issues to note

  • The governing NHS Board has collective responsibility for its decisions and all Board members have equal status in discussions.
  • The Chair leads the governing body and the Chief Executive leads and manages the organisation.
  • Table 1 illustrates the key roles of Non-Executive Directors in comparison with other members of the Board.


To provide an induction programme that will support the Board in discharging their corporate responsibility for ensuring that the Board fulfils the aims and objectives set by Scottish Ministers and demonstrates strong and effective governance capability.


The induction programme for Non-Executive Directors has been mapped to the principles of the Good Governance Standard for Public Services. This provides a framework for measurement and improvement.

Benefits expected

  • To support the Chairman of the Board to evidence their responsibility for providing strategic leadership to the organisation through the Board and in conjunction with the Chief Executive in execution of their duty as Accountable Officer.
  • To support individual Non-Executive Directors to meet the requirements of their role and to carry out their duties to the highest standard.


There are reputational, financial and compliance risks if the governing NHS Board does not meet its duty to support Non-Executive Directors to discharge their corporate responsibility.

Key roles of Non-Executive Directors

Table 1 (The Healthy NHS Board 2013: Principles for Good Governance pg 43-44)


Chief Executive



Formulate Strategy

Ensures Board develops vision, strategies and clear objectives to deliver organisational purpose

Leads strategy development process

Brings independence, external perspectives, skills, and challenge to strategy development

Takes lead role in developing strategic proposals – drawing on professional and clinical expertise (where relevant)

Ensure Accountability

  • Makes sure the Board understands its own accountability for governing the organisation
  • Ensures Board committees that support accountability are properly constituted
  • Holds CE to account for delivery of strategy
  • Leads the Board in being accountable to Scottish Ministers
  • Leads in the delivery of strategy
  • Establishes effective performance management arrangements and controls
  • Acts as Accountable Officer
  • Holds the Executive to account for the delivery of strategy
  • Offers purposeful, constructive scrutiny and challenge
  • Chairs or participates as a member of key committees that support accountability
  • Account individually and collectively for the effectiveness of the Board
  • Leads implementation of strategy within functional areas
  • Manages performance within their area and deals effectively with poor performance

Shape Culture

Provides visible leadership in developing a health culture for the organisation, and ensures that this is reflected and modelled in their own and in the Board’s behaviour and decision making

Provides visible leadership in developing a health culture for the organisation, and ensures that this is reflected in their own and in the Executive’s behaviour and decision making

  • Actively supports and promotes a health culture for the organisation and reflects this in their own behaviour
  • Provides visible leadership in developing a health culture so that staff believe Non-Executives provide a safe point of access to the Board for raising concerns
  • Actively supports and promotes a positive culture of the organisation and reflects this in their own behaviour
  • Nurtures good leadership at all levels, actively addressing problems impacting staff’s ability to do a good job


Ensures requirements for accurate, timely and clear information to Board are clear to the Executive

Ensures provision of accurate, timely and clear information to the Board

Satisfies themselves of the integrity of financial and quality intelligence including getting out and about, observing and talking to staff and patients

Takes principal responsibility for providing accurate timely and clear information to the Board


Plays key role as ambassador and building strong partnerships with patients and public, staff, other stakeholders

Plays key role as ambassador and building strong partnerships with patients and public, staff, other stakeholders

Ensures Board acts in best interests of patients and public

Leads on engagement with specific internal or external stakeholder groups

Programme of meetings

A schedule of meetings will be arranged with key staff to support induction. As a minimum, initial meetings will be arranged with the Chairman, Chief Executive and Directors.

Development and mandatory training

The following core development opportunities will be offered to new Non-Executive Directors. Other development opportunities/requirements will be identified either as relevant to governance committee membership or as identified through the performance development process.

  • CIPFA Essential skills for Board members.
  • Audit Committee members: Essential skills for Audit Committee members.
  • Mandatory training requirements within the NHS Board will be scheduled.

Key documents to support induction


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