The role of the NHS provider chair – a framework for development

One of the actions in the interim NHS People Plan was to develop competency frameworks for senior NHS leadership roles to assist in the recruitment, development and appraisal of our leaders.

NHS provider chairs were consulted and contributed to the co-creation of the NHS provider chair development framework, which we expect will be widely applied to more effectively and consistently support the recruitment, development and retention of top leadership talent on our boards.

The chair competency framework recognises the pivotal role and contribution of provider chairs and aims to support NHS trusts and foundation trusts in attracting, appointing and developing them. Above all, in leading their boards, chairs must visibly and consistently demonstrate a commitment to developing and maintaining a healthy organisational culture and environment built on trust; openness; honesty; integrity; and inclusivity, and which promotes collaborative, system-level leadership that is focused on the best interests of all patients and service users and the wellbeing of all staff.

Certain core characteristics are essential in ensuring success and effectiveness in the chair role. The framework describes these core chair competencies, in the context of the NHS principles and values in the NHS Constitution.

The NHS provider chair development framework also offers guidance on best practice expectations for the chair’s role and describes the skills, experience and attributes in a draft person specification for the role. The chair’s role is challenging and, unlike the role of chief executive, is not full-time. Therefore, trusts will need to consider how the role’s many requirements match the time the chair can reasonably be expected to commit to it. We also recognise that trusts will require different balances within the chair’s role — certain competencies and responsibilities will need more emphasis than others, depending on a trust’s size, scope and circumstances, and will affect the role and how the framework is applied.

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