Workforce Risks and Opportunities: The Role of the Non Executive

NHS Providers ran sessions at its four national Non-Executive Director (NED) Networks in late 2015, with a focus on workforce and organisation development1 (OD). The sessions were well received, and a wide number of broadly consistent themes discussed.

The NHS Five Year Forward View, published in October 2014, points the way for a new approach to the NHS workforce. Workforce represents the biggest area of NHS provider trusts’ budget spend, between 60% and 85%, and is also one of the biggest sources of challenge at both strategic and operational level. Currently around 1.2m people work in the NHS in England as a whole, and a further 1.6m in social care. The King’s Fund estimates that together this makes up 1 in 10 of the working population.

The events provided a facilitated environment for discussion. NEDs were able to share and build understanding of the current challenges and root causes, as well as discuss new opportunities which might be exploited. NEDs were encouraged to explore their own trust’s position on workforce, and to offer their insights.

This report brings together the themes, including challenges and successes, which NEDs discussed at the workshops.


• A list of performance indicators which NEDs can consider using when looking for workforce assurance
• Board table topics which NEDs might use to start discussions around workforce risks and opportunities within their trusts
• Top workforce tips which could usefully be shared with board colleagues.


• Circulation of this report to NEDs at member trusts for comment
• Consideration of further opportunities for interested NEDs to share information more regularly about best practice in workforce
• Ginny Edwards and Sue Ells to continue to track developments amongst provider trusts through NED conversations.

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