Candidate Selection – Best Practice Resource Practical Toolkit – for the appointment of lay members to clinical commissioning groups

Selection on Merit

Best practices suggests that applicants are assessed on the basis of the qualities required, set out in the Information Pack and the competence they demonstrate at interview. It is against the law to take account of disability, gender, race or age. This rules out positive discrimination in favour of any applicants on these grounds. Care must be taken to ensure that none of the comments or notes on the selection or interview records can be construed as providing evidence of possible unlawful discrimination.

Any prior knowledge of applicants must not influence the selection process. If any of the applicants are known to you in a personal or professional capacity, you must declare the nature of this relationship to the other members of the selection panel during the shortlisting meeting.

It is inevitable that some selection panel members may have prior knowledge of many of the applicants. You may wish to build the constitution of the selection panel to manage this by ensuring that at least one of the members is completely independent. The selection panel should therefore take a measured approach when considering whether any prior knowledge may be perceived to compromise the integrity of the selection process. In some instances, however, it may not be appropriate for a particular member to continue to assess an applicant or sit on the selection panel.

Assessing the Individual Applicants

There are usually two stages to the assessment process.

1.   Shortlisting for Interview

Panel members may wish to individually review the applications from each applicant and, based on the written evidence, decide whether the applicant should be offered an interview.

On the day of the shortlisting meeting, the selection panel discuss the applicants and reach a decision on who to call for interview.  Panel members should consider the evidence given by the applicants and shortlist those that best meet the expertise criteria identified in the Information Pack.

2.   Interviewing

Best practice suggests that the interviews are competency-based to determine whether the candidates have the competencies to make good governing body members. These competencies are set out in your Information Pack so that candidates are aware of what is expected of them.

The objective is to use competency assessments to distinguish between candidates who have already indicated a particular expertise on their application. For example, three accountants may have similar qualifications and background but the competency interview will also test their ability to communicate effectively, work as team members, think on their feet etc.

Given the significant public profile and responsibility they hold, it is important that those appointed as members of Clinical Commissioning Groups maintain the confidence of the public, patients and NHS staff at all times. Therefore a question must be asked to ascertain if there are any issues in their personal or professional history that could be misconstrued or cause that confidence to be jeopardised, and any such issues explored before a recommendation on the appointment is made.

The result of the probing of expertise and competencies should be summarised by the Chair of the Selection Panel on the individual candidate’s interview record

The Selection Panel should reach a conclusion on whether the candidates are appointable. Comments from the interview record will form the basis for feedback to candidates, and may be released to them should they request it.

Panel members should not give any indication to candidates about recommendations or probable outcomes. The panel chair, governing body chair or accountable officer should notify successful or unsuccessful candidates once the decision has been made.

Interview questions – testing expertise criteria and competencies

The panel should decide on a set of questions to test across the range of criteria and competencies.

Best practice says that as far as possible questions should be competency based so that they test evidence of past behaviours and performance rather than asking hypothetical (what if …) questions.

All candidates should be asked the same set of questions but it is quite in order to test their experience further with supplementary or probing questions.  Please keep a record of the set of opening questions asked to all candidates.

Record Keeping

All decisions should be recorded for each stage of the process. These records will provide an audit trail and also vital information which may be required to give feedback to candidates on their performance. It may also become the evidential record in the event that a decision is challenged.

Candidates have a right to see everything in their own appointment record but not records relating to other candidates.

External Panel Members (EPM’s)

A selection panel may include an External Panel Member (EPM). The EPM usually has the duty to serve as a full member of the panel but with particular responsibility for the integrity of the process. They do not usually have a casting vote on the panel.

CCGs can source their own local EPM or contact

to access a central list of experienced independent panel members. You should be aware that EPMs usually charge a daily fee, plus any expenses incurred.

Discrimination and disclosure of records

It is illegal to discriminate either against or in favour of applicants because of disability, gender, race or age. Applications can only be judged against the requirements set out in the recruitment material.

Applicants have the right to see all documentation relating to their own candidacy, and some will ask to see it. It is essential that written comments are legal, measured, and justifiable and relate to the advertised criteria.

Diversity and Equality

CCG governing bodies need to have the confidence of the communities they serve. If people can relate to the governing body members they are more likely to feel assured that their interests are shared and taken into account.

Ensuring that governing bodies reflect the diversity of the local community is one way of building confidence. Taking NHS boards as an example, through active and positive encouragement over the years, the response of women, people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities and people with disabilities has increased. In turn, this has increased the likelihood of these groups coming through interview successfully. This approach could be applied to governing body members.

It is most important that panels consider avoiding any cultural or gender bias in the selection process that may disadvantage these groups.

The Legal Framework

There are legal duties placed on all public authorities. Current “equality” legislation comprises:

The Gender Recognition Act 2004

The purpose of this Act is to provide transsexual people with legal recognition in their acquired gender. Legal recognition will follow from the issue of a full gender recognition certificate by a Gender Recognition Panel. In practical terms, legal recognition will have the effect that, for example, a male-to-female transsexual person will be legally recognised as a woman in English Law. On the issue of a full gender recognition certificate, the person will be entitled to a new birth certificate reflecting the acquired gender and will be able to marry someone of the opposite gender to his or her acquired gender.

The Civil Partnership Act 2004

This Act creates a new legal relationship of civil partnership, which two people of the same-sex can form by signing a registration document. It also provides same-sex couples who form a civil partnership with parity of treatment in a wide range of legal matters with those opposite-sex couples who enter into a civil marriage.

Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003

These regulations outlaw discrimination (direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation) in employment and vocational training on the grounds of religion or belief. The regulations apply to discrimination on grounds of religion, religious belief or similar philosophical belief.

Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003

These regulations outlaw discrimination (direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation) in employment and vocational training on the grounds of sexual orientation. The regulations apply to discrimination on grounds of orientation towards persons of the same sex (lesbians and gay men) and the same and opposite sex (bisexuals).

Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations 1999

These regulations are a measure to prevent discrimination against transsexual people on the grounds of sex in pay and treatment in employment and vocational training. They effectively insert into the Sex Discrimination Act a provision to extend the Act, insofar as it refers to employment and vocational training, to include discrimination on gender reassignment grounds.

The Human Rights Act 1998

The Human Rights Act came fully into force on 2 October 2000. It gives further effect in the UK to rights contained in the European Convention of Human Rights. The Act:

  • makes it unlawful for a public authority to breach Convention rights, unless an Act of Parliament meant it could not have acted differently;
  • means that cases can be dealt with in a UK court or tribunal; and
  • says that all UK legislation must be given a meaning that fits with the Convention rights, if that is possible.

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995

This Act prohibits discrimination against disabled people in the areas of employment, the provision of goods, facilities, services and premises and education; and provides for regulations to improve access to public transport to be made.

The Race Relations Act 1976 (as amended by the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000)

The Race Relations Act (RRA) makes it unlawful to treat a person less favourably than another on racial grounds. These cover grounds of race, colour, nationality (including citizenship), and national or ethnic origin.

The Race Relations (Amendment) Act outlawed discrimination (direct and indirect) and victimisation in all public authority functions not previously covered by the RRA, with only limited exceptions. It also placed a general duty on specified public authorities to promote race equality and good race relations. There are also specific duties for listed organisations including the production of Race Equality Schemes.

The Sex Discrimination Act (as amended) 1975

This Act (which applies to women and men of any age, including children) prohibits sex discrimination against individuals in the areas of employment, education, and in the provision of goods, facilities and services and in the disposal or management of premises.

The Equal Pay Act (as amended) 1970

This Act gives an individual a right to the same contractual pay and benefits as a person of the opposite sex in the same employment, where the man and the woman are doing : like work; or work related as equivalent under an analytical job evaluation study; or work that is proved to be of equal value.

Disability Discrimination Act 2005

This Act makes substantial amendments to the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (see above). The 2005 Act places a general duty on public authorities to promote disability equality and to have due regard to eliminate unlawful discrimination. It includes the requirement to produce a Disability Equality Scheme. The Disability Equality Duty for the Public Sector came into force in December 2006.

The Equality Act

The Equality Act 2010 covers nine protected characteristics, which cannot be used as a reason to treat people unfairly. Every person has one or more of the protected characteristics, so the act protects everyone against unfair treatment. The protected characteristics are: age; disability; gender reassignment; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex and sexual orientation.

The Equality Act sets out the different ways in which it is unlawful to treat someone, such as direct and indirect discrimination, harassment, victimisation and failing to make a reasonable adjustment for a disabled person.

The act prohibits unfair treatment in the workplace, when providing goods, facilities and services, when exercising public functions, in the disposal and management of premises, in education and by associations (such as private clubs).

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