NHS Forth Valley Assurance Board minutes: 10 January 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 10 January 2023.

Attendees and apologies


  • Christine McLaughlin (Chair), Co-Director of Population Health (in-person) 
  • Alex McMahon, Chief Nursing Officer (in-person)
  • Graham Ellis, Deputy Chief Medical Officer (virtually) (substituting for Gregor Smith)
  • Richard Foggo, Co-Director of Population Health (virtually)
  • Gillian Russell, Director of Health Workforce (virtually)
  • Angie Wood, Director of Social Care Resilience and Improvement (virtually)
  • Robert Kirkwood, Head of the Office of Chief Executive (in-person)
  • Tracy Slater, Head of Performance and Delivery (virtually)

Attendees – Forth Valley (in-person)

  • Cathie Cowan, Chief Executive 
  • Allan Rennie, Vice-Chair (substituting for Janie McCusker)
  • Andrew Murray, Medical Director 
  • Frances Dodd, Executive Nurse Director
  • Scott Urquhart, Finance Director
  • Robert Clark, Employee Director 

Attendees – Forth Valley (virtually)

  • Patricia Cassidy, Chief Officer, Falkirk HSCP
  • Annemargaret Black, Chief Officer, Clackmannanshire and Stirling HSCP

Attendees - Scottish Government/External

  • Hazel Borland, Professional Advisor and External Support (in-person)
  • John Harden, Deputy National Clinical Director and External Support (in-person)
  • John Brown, Chair of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and External Support Team (virtually)
  • [redacted] (Secretariat), Senior Policy Manager (in-person)
  • [redacted] (Secretariat), Policy Adviser (in-person)


  • Gregor Smith, Chief Medical Officer, Scottish Government
  • Linda Donaldson, HR Director, NHS Forth Valley 
  • Janie McCusker, Chair, NHS Forth Valley 

Items and actions

Welcome, apologies and introduction

The Chair welcomed members to the third meeting of the Assurance Board, summarised the agenda for the meeting; and introduced John Brown, Chair of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (GGC) and co-author of the Blueprint for Good Governance, to the Assurance Board, who has joined the External Support Team. 

Update from last meeting 

The Chair provided a brief update on the work progressed since the last meeting on 13 December 2022, including the update to Parliament from the Cabinet Secretary on 22 December 2022, and thanked members for their contributions.  

Report from External Support Team 

The External Support team provided an update on their work, referencing the first report shared with the Assurance Board.

John Brown confirmed his role in relation to the governance aspect of NHS Forth Valley’s escalated position. He provided a brief update on the work that will be undertaken with the Board, referencing previous work undertaken with other Health Boards facing governance issues.  

Members reflected on the progress made by NHS Forth Valley to date and reaffirmed the importance of effective relationships in supporting sustainable progress. 

Forth Valley Improvement Plan – progress update 

Members of the NHS Forth Valley executive leadership team (ELT) joined the meeting.

NHS Forth Valley provided a progress update against the actions within the Improvement Plan and focused on key activities that have progressed over the previous month.  

Members clarified the need to see progress against Integration actions in January. Director of Social Care Resilience and Improvement agreed to pick up concerns raised with her team. 

The Chair introduced John Brown to the ELT to confirm the work he has been progressing on governance with the Chair of NHS Forth Valley, and to set out what further work will be undertaken over the coming weeks. The Chair re-iterated the need for NHS Forth Valley to own delivery of the governance improvement work. 

Members were keen to understand how progress would be measured and a discussion on a measurement framework arose. Members requested that this Framework be presented to the Assurance Board in the next month. 

Members of NHS Forth Valley also provided a progress updates against a number of performance areas, including: out of hours (OOH), Psychological Therapies (PT), Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), and Unscheduled Care (USC). An update was also provided on progress against Healthcare Improvement Scotland’s (HIS) recommendations following the recent safe delivery of care report. 

Members reaffirmed the need to build strong relationships within the ELT and Board to deliver sustainable change and support further progress.   

The Chair confirmed that a written progress update should continue going forward, and considered a monthly written update to be most beneficial for the Assurance Board and NHS Forth Valley.

The Chair set out timelines for future meetings and the expectation that SG is provided with sufficient time to consider papers in advance of meetings.  

The Chair brought the discussion to a close and reiterated the role of the external support team  in providing constructive guidance as NHS Forth Valley works to embed sustainable change. 

Members of the NHS Forth Valley ELT left the meeting.

Review and next steps 

Members of the Assurance Board and External Support Team reflected on the discussion with NHS Forth Valley ELT. 

The Chair asked the Secretariat and External Support Team to liaise with NHS Forth Valley to produce a schedule of updates for subsequent meetings, including agreeing when written updates would be provided to the Assurance Board. 

The Chair requested a pre-meet to be held with Assurance Board members in St. Andrew’s House (SAH) prior to the subsequent meetings to allow meetings at Forth Valley HQ to be dedicated to holding the NHS Forth Valley ELT to account, and supporting them to make progress. 

The Chair thanked members and attendees for their time and closed the meeting. 

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