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NHS Long Term Plan Webinar Series

The role of non-executive directors in integrated care
Time to think system
TBC July 2021
13:00 - 14:00 BST




Carolyn May

Head of NED Talent and Appointments Team

NHS England & Improvement

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Steven-weeks (3).jpg

Steven Weeks

Policy Manager

NHS Employers

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John Coutts

Policy Advisor

NHS Providers

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The NHSE/I paper Integrating care: next steps to building strong and effective integrated care systems across England does a good job of formalising and progressing the conversation about integrated care in England.

It freshly articulates the ambition to see greater collaboration between partners in health and care systems. It describes some of the challenges associated with that increased collaboration. And it sets out some of the options for giving integrated care systems (ICSs) a firmer footing in legislation, likely to take effect from April 2022.

One important governance factor that has not been considered to date is the future role of the non-executive director (NED). Indeed, there are only two references to NEDs in the white paper and one of these relates to the operation of NHS England and NHS Improvement. The second only goes as far as clarifying that non-executives will form part of the new ICS NHS bodies’ unitary boards.


The white paper on integration is relatively quiet about the make-up of boards within new integrated care systems. But non-executive directors should play a big part in new governance arrangements.

The NHS’s response to the Covid pandemic has been remarkable. Barriers and obstacles that would historically have seemed insurmountable were removed overnight to facilitate collaborative working at scale. It is critical that we build on all this goodwill in taking forward the integration and collaboration agenda. Legislation alone is a blunt instrument in trying to deliver collaboration, what is important are the changes in behaviours, attitude, and relationships that will make a difference.

Going forward, NEDs will need to shift their traditional focus from challenging on the delivery of their own statutory organisations' goals to having more of a system focus with local authority and other partners on the delivery of improved population health outcomes.

NEDs do have a unique and pivotal role to play, and it is important that we utilise their experience and governance expertise to ensure that as a service we capitalise on this opportunity to really make a difference for the people that matter most.

In this webinar our panel will discuss:

1. How should the role of the non-exec evolve?

2. Which tables should NEDs be sitting at? How does their ICS role sit with their other responsibilities?

3. What key attributes or skillsets will they need moving forward – as they attempt to balance their important role around assurance with driving the process of change?

4. How can NEDs assess their impact and effectiveness?

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