Fit and Proper Person Test for board members

Classification: Official
Publication reference: PRN00238


  • Integrated care board chief executives
  • NHS trust and NHS foundation trust chief executives


  • Integrated care board chief people officers
  • NHS trust and NHS foundation trust chief people officers
  • NHS trust and NHS foundation trust company secretaries

Dear Colleague

Fit and Proper Person Test for board members

Today we have published the Fit and Proper Person Test (“FPPT”) Framework. This is in response to the recommendations made by Tom Kark KC in his 2019 Review of the FPPT.

The Framework is designed to assess the appropriateness of an individual to discharge their duties effectively in their capacity as a board member. It has been designed to be fair and proportionate and has been developed with the intention to avoid unnecessary bureaucratic burden on NHS organisations. However, ensuring high standards of leadership in the NHS is crucial and the Framework will help board members build a portfolio to support and provide assurance that they are fit and proper, while demonstrably unfit board members will be prevented from moving between NHS organisations.

The FPPT applies to executive and non-executive directors* of integrated care boards, NHS trusts and foundation trusts, NHS England and Care Quality Commission – interim as well as permanent appointments.

We are aware that this Framework introduces new and more comprehensive requirements around board appointments and annual review, which organisations will need time to implement. To support you we will be running webinars and discussing at forthcoming ICB and trust leaders’ events. Additional information can be found on our website.

Please familiarise yourself with the framework, and the accompanying documents on our website. The key next steps for implementation are as follows: 

1. New data points are being added to ESR to record the testing of relevant information about board members’ qualifications and career history.

Please, working with your chair, let your board directors know about this as soon as possible, so they can object if they have concerns regarding the proposed use of their data. As a participating data controller, you will need to consider these concerns and amend the approach if necessary. 

2. From 30 September 2023, use the new board member reference template for references for all new board appointments.

3. From 30 September 2023, complete and retain locally the new board member reference for any board member who leaves their position for whatever reason, and record whether or not a reference has been requested.

Working with system colleagues and wider stakeholders, we are currently finalising a new NHS Leadership Competency Framework (LCF) for board level roles. We will share this with you by September, so that you can implement this alongside the FPPT Framework.

The LCF will help inform the ‘fitness’ assessment in the FPPT in line with the recommendation in the Tom Kark KC Review on professional standards. It takes account of the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan, NHS People Promise and ICB formation, and will support you to develop a diverse range of skilled and proficient leaders to deliver the best outcomes for our patients, workforce and wider communities.

A new board appraisal framework will also be published, incorporating the LCF, by March 2024. By the end of Q1 2024, we will ask you to use this for all annual appraisals of all board directors for 2023/24.

In his recent review, Sir Gordon Messenger reinforced the importance of implementing the FPPT recommendations from the Kark Review and also developing a single set of unified, core leadership and management standards for managers, for which the LCF is a critical part. There are many more recommendations in the Messenger Review and we are working with system colleagues and wider stakeholders to take these forward in a way that reflects the ambition and importance of this work. 

As part of this work, we are delighted to be able to publish the first suite of board level learning and development offers for executive and non-executive board directors today. We hope these are useful and would be grateful for feedback, including on what additional support offers would be valuable to you and your colleagues. Please do contact if you have any queries or suggestions.

Gordon Messenger recognised many outstanding examples of first-rate leadership in health and social care but he also found that more is required to ensure quality leadership and management is adequately developed and embedded. This is a significant step in that direction. 

Thank you for your continued engagement and commitment to this important work.

Yours sincerely

Amanda Pritchard, NHS Chief Executive
Dr Navina Evans, Chief Workforce, Training and Education Officer

* Individuals referred to as ‘Directors’ within Regulation 5 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014. This includes those who are members of other professional registers, such as the General Medical Council or Nursing and Midwifery Council and who should additionally be assessed against FPPT under this framework if they are a board member at an NHS organisation.