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Hospital board may lose clinically-experienced member

Lancashire Teaching Hospitals' board could lose a non-executive director with clinical experience.
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals' board could lose a non-executive director with clinical experience.
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Bosses at the trust which runs central Lancashire’s hospitals could soon have nobody with clinical experience sitting opposite them on the board, it has emerged.

Several vacancies are about to be advertised for the scrutineering roles of non-executive director at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust - one of which has previously been filled by somebody with a clinical background.

The top table at the trust comprises six executive directors in day-to-day charge - three of whom are clinicians - and seven non-executives whose job is to hold their fellow board members to account.

The backgrounds of the non-executive team range from finance and IT, through to medical research and practice. Sometimes described as a 'critical friend', they monitor the strategic decisions taken by the trust and its overall performance.

But it has been proposed that the trust does not actively seek a replacement non-executive with clinical experience, instead specifying that applicants should have a background in research, digital, the charitable or regulated sectors.

Professor Tony Gatrell told the meeting that he found it “surprising” that there was no explicit requirement for one of the roles to be occupied by somebody who has worked as a clinician.

“I would expect somebody [to be appointed] who is sufficiently competent to challenge the others on the board [who do have clinical experience],” he said.

Sue Musson, Chairman of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, said the hope was to attract candidates with a broad range of skills, potentially from other relevant backgrounds such as local government or safeguarding of the vulnerable.

“The roles are all about gaining assurance that our systems and processes our aligned with our strategy,” she said.

“Also, we do have several thousand clinicians working for the organisation. And so for our safety and quality committees, there is lots of clinical experience,” Ms. Musson added.

After Professor Gatrell said he was “not entirely convinced”, it was agreed that the wording of the skills list be amended to seek somebody with regulated sector and/or clinical experience.

The general person specification for the non-executive director roles includes an understanding of the NHS, the ability to challenge others and self belief.

Three posts are due to be advertised later this month.