Planning the process – Best Practice Resource/Practical Toolkit – for the appointment of lay members to Clinical Commissioning Groups

Getting Started

When appointing to lay member roles for your governing body, it is a good opportunity to take some time to think about the requirements of the organisation, with consideration to the current skills mix on the existing governing body and the requirements of your constitution.

In order to aid smooth running of the process, adequate time should be invested in planning the process and agreeing policies and procedures. It is recommended that you identify a person responsible for co-ordinating the appointments process.

Robust processes are vital in ensuring that things are carried out in a timely manner and that a consistent process is applied. This approach affords a level of protection in the unlikely event that an appointment decision is challenged, by showing that candidates were appointed on merit using procedures that were transparent, fair and open. It will also help to make sure that people with the right skills are appointed who are able to contribute effectively to the CCG and its governing body, promoting good governance and inspiring public confidence. Best practice suggests the following points are considered when planning any appointments process:

Actions to consider

  • Make sure that resources and responsibility are allocated before starting the campaign. Consider the availability of key personnel and allocation of a person responsible for co-ordinating the process.
  • Establish the timescales outlining key milestones, ie. publicity date, closing date, interview and appointment dates.
  • Consult with key stakeholders, agreeing relevant involvement at key stages, how their views will be taken into account and the way the process is to be conducted.
  • Review and agree the role description and selection criteria with relevant stakeholders.
  • Identify the most appropriate methods to attract suitable applicants.
  • Decide on the most appropriate application format
  • Make arrangements to provide applications forms and / or information in alternative formats e.g. Braille, audio, large print etc.
  • Establish how applicants will be managed through the process, including sifting, shortlisting, any additional assessment and how they will be told about of the progress and outcome of their application.
  • Decide on the composition of your selection panel, including a credible independent perspective.
  • Establish interview/assessment arrangements, including how reasonable adjustments and accessibility requirements will be met.
  • Decide on the due diligence checks to be taken such as requesting proof of qualifications, use of the internet to find out if there is anything about the candidate in the public domain, or checking social media sites.
  • Consider level of risk associated with the appointment and how it can be managed effectively
  • Ensure that data is handled sensitively, confidentially and in line with Data Protection and Freedom of Information requirements.

You may also wish to consider and agree procedures to manage:

  • Candidate queries, including requests for feedback or justification of decisions taken.
  • Late applications.
  • Conflicts of interest.
  • Applicant(s) unable to attend arranged interview/assessment dates.
  • Any internal changes, such as illness or changes to panel members or interview/assessment arrangements.

Defining the Role Description

Each role should have a description and should clearly portray the expectations of the appointee. Governing body member roles need to be in line with the requirements of the legislative framework, and there are certain elements that are likely to be desirable as being common to all.

A core role outline for all governing body members and a core set of skills, competencies and attributes are described in the document Clinical Commissioning Group Governing Body Members – Role Outlines, Attributes and Skills  Each of the roles that will be specified in the legislation will also be supplemented by a set of specific attributes and competencies which may be appropriate to ensure the unique contribution of that individual member to the workings of the whole governing body.

Once agreed, the role description may be used to underpin the selection process. Leaving the criteria too wide can lead to a high volume of applicants. Alternatively, restricting the criteria unnecessarily (such as specifying a particular qualification which may not be essential) may unhelpfully restrict the number of applications and / or cause otherwise suitable individuals to be ruled out. Once agreed and publicised, the role description must remain unchanged and the selection process follow the specified areas to ensure a fair and transparent process.

In setting any additional selection criteria, it may be useful to take the following points into account:

  • The criteria should clearly set out the understanding, skills and attributes against which each applicants’ application will be assessed, including eligibility/disqualification criteria where relevant.
  • Do not set too many criteria – it will make the assessment difficult. You should only include necessary and justifiable requirements.
  • The criteria should not discriminate either directly or indirectly (eg. asking for ten years’ experience discriminates against those not old enough to have worked for ten years), unlawfully against, or deter applications from a particular group or groups in society.
  • The validity of non-traditional career paths and the skills acquired to encourage applications from as diverse a field as possible.

Key timescales

Develop a timetable, noting key milestones, such as publicity date, closing date, interview and appointment dates.  Give yourself enough time to complete the recruitment campaign without compromising the process.  Remember that there are several people involved, most with extremely busy diaries and long standing commitments. Circulate the timetable to all the panel members, highlighting key dates when they need to be available.

Remember to factor in school and public holidays.  If interviews are to be held during the week of a public/school holiday, consider that some panel members and applicants may have pre-booked leave.

Try to avoid closing the advertisement on a Friday.  If it is likely that the applications will not be looked at by the panel that afternoon, you could consider closing on a Monday and give potential applicants an additional weekend in which to apply.

See sample timetable.

Use of External Providers

Some Clinical Commissioning Groups may wish to make use of external providers, such as headhunters or recruitment consultants to assist with these appointments. The support offered is wide ranging, from managing all or part of the process.

Tips for Selecting a Supplier:

  • Previous experience or recommendation
  • Reputation, size, number of experienced personnel assigned to the project
  • Ability to understand and develop a good working relationship with the organisation
  • Experience of similar assignments
  • Competence and experience of attracting a diverse pool of applicants
  • Cost effectiveness, value for money and budgetary control
  • Competence in sifting applications (if necessary)
  • Additional services where relevant, e.g. psychometric testing and fit within the overall process

This is part of a supportive suite of resources for Clinical Commissioning Groups to use should they wish to.