Fit and proper persons requirements

We have specific role in appointing and supporting chairs and non-executive directors of NHS Trusts and chairs of integrated care boards (ICBs). This includes a duty to ensure that the individuals we appoint comply with the Nolan principles of public life and meet the Fit and proper persons requirements.

NHS England has developed a Fit and Proper Person Test (FPPT) Framework in response to recommendations made by Tom Kark KC in his 2019 review of the FPPT (the Kark Review). This also takes into account the requirements of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in relation to directors being fit and proper for their roles. The FPPT framework for board members has recently been published. Please see NHS England » NHS England Fit and Proper Person Test Framework for board members for latest details.

We must be able to provide evidence that appropriate systems and processes are in place to ensure that all new and existing chairs and non-executive directors are, and continue to be, fit for purpose and that none off the criteria of ‘unfitness’ set out in the regulations apply. You cannot serve on an NHS Board and be:

  • a person who has been convicted in the United Kingdom of any offence or been convicted elsewhere of any offence which if committed in any of the United Kingdom, would constitute an offence
  • a person who has been erased, removed, or struck off a register of professionals maintained by a regulator of health care or social work professionals
  • an undischarged bankrupt, or a person whose estate has had a sequestration awarded in respect of it and who has not been discharged
  • the subject of a bankruptcy restrictions order or an interim bankruptcy restrictions order or an order to like effect made in Scotland or Northern Ireland
  • a person whom a moratorium period under a debt relief order applies under Part VIIA 9 debt relief orders) of the Insolvency Act 1986(40)
  • a person who has made a composition or arrangement with, or granted a trust deed for, creditors and not been discharged in respect of it
  • included in the children’s barred list or the adults’ barred list maintained under section 2 of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, or in any corresponding list maintained under an equivalent enactment in force in Scotland or Northern Ireland
  • a person who has been responsible for, privy to, contributed to or facilitated any serious misconduct or mismanagement (whether unlawful or not) in the course of carrying on a regulated activity, or discharging any functions relating to any office or employment with a service provider.

The full criteria of the requirements is available on the Care Quality Commission website.

Checks undertaken by NHS England

In partnership with NHS Trust colleagues and any executive search firms supporting the recruitment process, we undertake this series of checks to ensure that candidates meet our internal criteria:

  • Applications checked for completeness
  • CV check for gaps in history, potential issues and conflicts of interest
  • check that fit and proper person self-declaration form completed by the candidate, and renewed for reappointments via appraisal documentation
  • scrutiny of panel assessment documentation, where appropriate for new appointments
  • Google and news searches, including high profile roles, any regulated activity, or work with children or vulnerable adults
  • Social media search, for any context that is offensive or controversial
  • check with relevant regulators, where individuals have a history of regulated activity
  • scrutiny of references
  • search of disqualified directors register
  • search of insolvency and bankruptcy register
  • search of Charity Trustee register
  • search of Employment Tribunal Judgement register
  • scrutiny of appraisal documentation, where appropriate
  • check of corporate knowledge where the individual has a background in the NHS

Further documentation to be completed

All appointments are conditionally offered on satisfactory completion of:

  • Disclosure and Barring Scheme (DBS) checks (where appropriate to the role)
  • occupational health assessment (for new appointments only)
  • random checks of educational qualifications
  • proof of identity, for example passport or driving licence (for new appointments only)
  • proof of qualifications
  • proof of right to work, where individual does not provide a UK passport as proof of identity (for new appointments only)

While we make every effort to minimise the impact these checks will have on timescales for recruitment exercises, inevitably some of checks may take more time than others.

Advice for current chairs and non-executive directors

Under the regulations, NHS trusts must be able to provide evidence that appropriate systems and processes are in place to ensure that all new directors and existing directors are, and continue to be, fit for purpose and that no appointments meet any of the ‘unfitness’ criteria set out in the regulations.

Existing NHS chairs and non-executive directors should alert us to any change to their circumstances that may affect their suitability for appointment. In addition, as part of the annual appraisal process, confirmation is sought that for each Chair and Non-executive Director in post there are no pending, or other matters, that may affect their suitability for appointment.

The terms and conditions of appointment for chair and non-executive directors, including the arrangements for suspension and termination, also ensure that we are able to take appropriate action if an individual already appointed is found to be an unfit person.