Weighing up the pros and cons of chairing two trust boards
12 March 2020
A report by NHS Providers highlights the potential benefits and risks of more than one trust sharing a chair.
This arrangement is becoming increasingly common for a range of different reasons, often including a trend towards greater collaboration and consolidation of trusts, a drive to improve quality and efficiency, and new partnerships with the development of system working.
Examples of the benefits cited in Chairing more than one trust board include:
- Facilitating a cross-fertilisation of cultures, learning and practice
- Assisting in integration for organisations working towards merger/acquisition of trusts with common strategic interests
- Encouraging mutual support
- Supporting collaboration in service provision, particularly specialised services
- Assisting in building relationships across trusts and can help in stabilising leadership teams
- Facilitating more joined up care and a decrease in trust competition
- Aiding system working and the creation of an integrated healthcare system – working with partners and sharing services.
The report also highlights some of the most common areas of risk to be managed identified by people in joint chair roles, including conflicts of interest, time commitment, and appointments and removal from office by the council of governors.
There are also reflections from colleagues who have adopted dual chair roles for a range of different reasons. Trust case studies include:
- Hugh Taylor, chair, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust and King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
- Joe Fielder, chair, North East London NHS Foundation Trust and Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust
- Kathy McLean, chair, University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust (formerly Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust)
- Marie Gabriel, chair, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and East London NHS Foundation Trust
- Robin Talbot, chair, North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust (formerly Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust)
- Paul Devlin, chair, Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
The director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, Miriam Deakin said:
"We know that the option for more than one trust to share a chair is being explored by a number of trusts boards, for a variety of different reasons. While there are no insurmountable barriers to developing this model effectively, it does raise a series of different risks which need to be managed.
"We hope that this briefing proves helpful in sharing the experiences of a number of joint chair roles to date, in highlighting risks they have had to manage, and in sharing learning around the opportunities for improvement that these arrangements can create."