NHS Forth Valley Assurance Board minutes: 13 December 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 13 December 2022.

Attendees and apologies


  • Christine McLaughlin (Chair), Co-Director of Population Health (in-person) 
  • Richard Foggo, Co-Director of Population Health (virtually)
  • David Miller, Chief People Officer (virtually)
  • Gillian Russell, Director of Health Workforce (virtually)
  • Robert Kirkwood, Head of the Office of Chief Executive (virtually)
  • Alex McMahon, Chief Nursing Officer (virtually)
  • Angie Wood, Director of Social Care Resilience and Improvement (virtually)
  • Tracy Slater, Head of Performance and Delivery (virtually)

Forth Valley (in-person)

  • Cathie Cowan, Chief Executive 
  • Janie McCusker, Chair (Forth Valley)
  • Andrew Murray, Medical Director 
  • Francis Dodd, Executive Nurse Director
  • Linda Donaldson, HR Director 
  • Scott Urquhart, Director of Finance 
  • Annemargaret Black, Chief Officer, Clackmannanshire and Stirling HSCP
  • Robert Clark, Employee Director 
  • Patricia Cassidy – Chief Officer, Falkirk HSCP

Scottish Government

  • Hazel Borland, Professional Advisor and SG external support (in-person)
  • John Harden, Deputy National Clinical Director and SG external support (in-person)
  • [redacted]  (Secretariat), Senior Policy Manager (virtually)
  • [redacted]  (Secretariat), Policy Adviser (virtually)


  • Gregor Smith, Chief Medical Officer, SG

Items and actions

Welcome, apologies and introduction

The Chair welcomed members to the second meeting of the Assurance Board and summarised the agenda for the meeting.  Members approved the meeting held on Thursday 1 December 2022. 

Terms of reference 

The Chair outlined the changes made to the Terms of Reference (ToR), notably in regards to the role and responsibilities of the Assurance Board in relation to the NHS Forth Valley Board. The Chair has asked Janie McCusker, Chair of NHS Forth Valley to join the meetings.  

Professor John Brown, Chair of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, will formally join the external support team in January. The external support team is in place to provide support to the whole leadership team, and not to particular individuals. 

Members offered comments on the updated ToR and reflected on the updated Improvement Plan from Forth Valley. Members approved the Terms of Reference (ToR) and on that basis the Secretariat will organise to share them with NHS Forth Valley, liaising with the SG website team to proactively publish the ToR and other material relating to the work of the Assurance Board.

Feedback from external support team

The External Support team provided an update on their work. They have met with various members of Forth Valley’s Executive Leadership Team (ELT). Further meetings have been arranged in the coming weeks with a number of clinical leads. They will arrange to meet with Forth Valley’s Governance Committee Chairs and the Chair of NHS Forth Valley.

They provided feedback to Forth Valley on the draft Improvement Plan and have regular meetings in the diary with the Nurse Director and Medical Director. The team intend to meet more regularly with the Chief Executive.

Draft improvement plan 

The Chair asked members for comments on the updated Improvement Plan from NHS Forth Valley. The group acknowledged that this iteration of the Plan was more focused but that it would have been helpful for it to sit coherently within a longer term strategic vision, NHS Forth Valley – Draft Improvement Plan 

NHS Forth Valley improvement plan 

Members of the NHS Forth Valley leadership team joined the meeting.

The Chair noted that Scottish Government will provide feedback, but reiterated the need for Forth Valley to have complete ownership of development and delivery of their plan. She also highlighted the timeline to provide an update to the Cabinet Secretary, and to Parliament, before recess.  

The Assurance Board, and members of the NHS Forth Valley leadership, offered comments and reflections on the draft Plan. Members highlighted the need for a long-term strategic vision to be embedded within the Plan, and the need for the whole leadership of NHS Forth Valley to sign up to delivering on the Plan and wider vision. Delivering strong and effective leadership will positively impact on culture and on the implementation of good governance.  

On governance, the Chair has spoken to John Brown who has agreed  to undertake a review of governance arrangements in the new year. 

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

Members of the NHS Forth Valley leadership team left the meeting.

Review and next steps

Members of the Assurance Board reflected on the discussion with NHS Forth Valley ELT and agreed the need for NHS Forth Valley’s Improvement Plan to capture long-term, strategic actions and to incorporate today’s discussion within the next iteration. 

Members recognised that whilst operational performance was not in the remit of the Assurance Board, improved performance is an important indication of change, and therefore is relevant to the wider discussion of NHS Forth Valley’s escalated position. 

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

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