The role of non-executive communities in local integration | Susanne Hasselmann

Susanne Hasselman

A new initiative, backed by funding, is set to move the dial on the non-executive community’s role in system transformation across England. Susanne Hasselmann, chair of NHS Clinical Commissioners’ Lay Members Network, tells us more.

The non-executive community (lay members in clinical commissioning groups and non-executive directors in trusts) will be key to the delivery of integrated health and care systems in the future. As non-executives and lay members we bring skills, attributes and experiences that are unique. Together, we have the potential to be key enablers for local systems and their leaders.

Our value lies in our individual backgrounds and our independence. The key elements of our contribution are:

  • providing independent challenge of strategic changes and decision-making
  • acting as a conduit for the views of patients, taxpayers and the wider public
  • ensuring high standards of probity and governance for decisions reached
  • supporting effective governance both within the organisation and across the wider system
  • bringing experience and skills from other sectors.

Chairing one of two STP events in autumn 2017, it became very apparent that the majority of the over 200 lay members and trust non-executive directors (NEDs) attending the event were often not engaged with local system decision-making, and there was a coherent, joined-up voice for the non-executive community across local areas was lacking. We captured the outputs of this event in a subsequent summary publication, Supporting change in your NHS: The non-executive community in transformational change.

At both events, we took a poll of attendees and nearly 100 per cent were interested in developing non-executive networks to support and enhance collaborative working across local systems.

Developing non-executive community networks
To address both these issues, we are delighted to have partnered with NHS England and NHS Improvement to provide a small amount of funding to support the development of local non-executive community networks across an integrated care system (ICS), sustainability and transformation partnership (STP) or integrated care partnership (ICP) footprint.

Initially, seven pilot sites will be established, with funding allocated based on how innovative the proposals are, the scope of their ambition and the scale of the challenge they are seeking to address locally.

The bidding process will close soon (10 October) and we hope to have these networks established before the end of the year. Importantly, we are not being prescriptive about what form these will take – we are asking the local areas themselves to develop their own network model and proposal based on the function for which they will be established.

We have already heard about several areas that have established networks across their local non-executive community. In Surrey Heartlands STP, for example, a lay member and NED STP discussion group has been established, with a lay member or NED attached to each of the 13 STP workstreams to ensure a cohesive and joined-up approach.

In Lancashire and South Cumbria ICS, five NED and lay members have been appointed to the ICS board to support leadership with their experience and knowledge and are now leading several specific ICS workstreams.

In West Yorkshire STP, a lay member assurance group covering 11 CCGs was established to ensure patient and public involvement in what is being planned, designed and delivered.

We hope local areas will build upon these examples and therefore we expect some of the proposals to be in systems where there is no network established so far and some from areas where networks already exist but where the proposals go further and might include engagement with the wider community, for example, local authorities or the public. The proposals may include the use of technology for network building or how a trust that reaches across a number of STPs/ ICSs or ICPs may link in with local networks.

We will share the learning from these pilots, what they have achieved, how they were established and how they overcame local challenges at an event in the new year. So please do apply!

Susanne Hasselmann is chair of the NHSCC Lay Members Network that represents lay members across CCGs, and a lay member in NHS South Eastern Hampshire CCG. If you would like to learn more about the non-executive community networks, please visit the NHSCC website. The application process will close on Wednesday 10 October.

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