Guardians of public interest: the expectation and experience of non-executive directors in National Health Service commissioning boards in England

Tweed, J. and Wallace, L.M. 2020. Guardians of public interest: the expectation and experience of non-executive directors in National Health Service commissioning boards in England. Journal of Health Organization and Management. 35 (1), pp. 53-67. https://doi.org/10.1108/JHOM-10-2019-0306

TitleGuardians of public interest: the expectation and experience of non-executive directors in National Health Service commissioning boards in England
TypeJournal article
AuthorsTweed, J. and Wallace, L.M.
Abstract

The purpose of the study is to examine how Non -Executive Directors (NEDs) in the English National Health Service (NHS) commissioning bodies experienced their role and contribution to governance.

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of 31 NEDs of Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) and 8 Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) NEDs. Framework analysis was applied using a conceptualisation of governance developed by Newman, which has four models of governance; the hierarchy, self-governance, open systems and rational goal model.

NEDS saw themselves as guardians of the public interest. NEDs power is a product of the explicit levers set out in the constitution of the board, but also how they choose to use their knowledge and expertise to influence decisions for, as they see it, the public good. They contribute to governance by holding to account executive and professional colleagues, acting largely within the rational goal model. CCG NEDs felt less powerful than in those in PCTs, operating largely in conformance and representational roles, even though government policy appears to be moving towards a more networked, open systems model.

This is the first in depth study of NEDs in English NHS local commissioning bodies. It is of value in helping to inform how the NED role could be enhanced to make a wider contribution to healthcare leadership as new systems are established in the UK and beyond.

KeywordsBoard governance, Healthcare boards, Non-executive director, Health service commissioning
JournalJournal of Health Organization and Management
Journal citation35 (1), pp. 53-67
ISSN1477-7266
Year2020
PublisherEmerald
Accepted author manuscript
File Access Level
Open (open metadata and files)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1108/JHOM-10-2019-0306
Publication dates
Published06 Nov 2020

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