New ‘competency’ framework for NHS board members

NHS England has published an NHS Leadership Competency Framework (LCF) designed to support chairs, chief executives, and board members to self-assess against six competency domains and identify development needs. The framework is for all board members of NHS providers, ICBs and NHS England.

The LCF comes at a time when the government and NHS England are considering again the need for new powers to disbar hospital managers where serious misconduct is found.   

The LCF has been developed in response to the recommendation from Tom Kark KC’s review of the Fit and Proper Persons Test in 2019 and following the publication of NHS England’s Fit and Proper Person Test framework for board members in August 2023 (you can read our blog here).

Aims of NHS England’s new framework

The assessment framework is designed to:

  • support the appointment of diverse, skilled and proficient leaders;
  • support the delivery of high-quality, care and outcomes for patients, service users, communities and the workforce; and
  • help organisations to develop and appraise all board members

The LCF acknowledges that people taking on first-time director roles are unlikely to be able to demonstrate all the competency examples. However, it should provide a guide by which directors can measure themselves and develop proficiency in all areas.

Six leadership competency domains

The LCF is based on six domains (see below), each with a range of competencies. For each domain there is a description of what good looks like, as well as an optional scoring guide to support with self-assessment and development. It acknowledges that people taking on first-time director roles are unlikely to be able to demonstrate all the competency examples. However, it should provide a guide by which board members can measure themselves and develop proficiency in all areas.

  1. Driving high-quality and sustainable outcomes
  2. Setting strategy and delivering long-term transformation
  3. Promoting equality and inclusion, and reducing health and workforce inequalities
  4. Providing robust governance and assurance
  5. Delivering a compassionate, just and positive culture
  6. Building a trust relationship with partners and communities

Using the LCF

HR directors will need to ensure that the LCF forms part of every organisation’s recruitment process and from 1 April, all six competency domains should be incorporated into all NHS board member – executive and non-executive - role descriptions and recruitment processes. 

The LCF should also form a core part of board member appraisals – the new Board Member Appraisal Framework is due to be published by autumn 2024. In the meantime, all board members should self-assess against the LCF and discuss findings with their chair or chief executive as part of their 2023/24 annual appraisal.

A revised Chair Appraisal Framework has been published for use in 2023/24 chair appraisals, and includes the competencies outlined in the LCF. 

In a letter from NHS England’s chief workforce officer, Dr Navina Evans announcing the LCF, she confirmed that they will be reviewing the framework as part of the planned review of the Fit and Proper Persons Test Framework in 2025.

Dr Evans also explained:

“The three frameworks are part of a wider programme of management and leadership development being led by NHS England with education partners, staff and stakeholders, to implement the recommendations in the Health and social care review: leadership for a collaborative future (known as the Messenger Review), as well as the recommendations from other reviews and reports on NHS leadership and management.”

NHS England is due to publish a three-year roadmap setting out more details of this work shortly.

If you have any queries relating to the Revised Fit and Proper Person Framework or the NHS Leadership Competency Framework, please do not hesitate to contact either Jog Hundle, Stuart Craig or Rebecca Pallot.

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Every piece of content we create is correct on the date it’s published but please don’t rely on it as legal advice. If you’d like to speak to us about your own legal requirements, please contact one of our expert lawyers.

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