In the wake of recent NHS and banking ‘scandals’ and, in particular, the findings of Sir David Walkers’ review of corporate governance in the banking industry (click here) and the interest in board behavioural issues by the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA – click here) plans are being drawn up, at the request of the Secretary of State for Health, to evaluate the personal behavioural qualities of every NHS board member in England.
This means that both executive and non-executive board members are likely to be periodically personally assessed to determine their behavioural ‘challenges’ in order to determine whether they are fit for their board roles. Board members who are found unfit for their role (i.e. ‘badly behaving’ board members) will, in the first instance, be offered intensive behaviour modification therapy. If this does not work, under separate but linked proposals currently being developed by the Department of Health in relation to ‘accreditation’ of board members, it is likely that the NHS Appointments Commission and Monitor (in the case of NHS foundation trusts) will be given new statutory powers to remove ‘badly behaving’ board members.
According to a recent Department of Health document leaked to Healthcare Governance Review, a pilot board-member behavioural assessment device (B-BAD) is currently being ‘secretly’ tested with around 100 board members across the NHS in England. The B-BAD device is an electronic data capturing instrument that uses an experimental methodology that combines board member responses, on a small numeric keypad built in to the device, to periodic questions together with “a number” of physiological sensory inputs, including sweat production, heart rate and blood pressure. Healthcare Governance Review is aware of some disquiet amongst a number of senior civil servants at the Department of Health as, allegedly, ethical approval for the pilot tests was granted by a group comprising mainly MPs, some of whom are facing serious allegations about their own behaviours in relation to the recent Parliamentary expenses scandal.
However, as one very senior Department of Health official, who insisted on complete anonymity, said to Healthcare Governance Review, “If the B-BAD device works then given the overwhelming evidence that boards need to be good to achieve their best in terms of good governance, use of the B-BAD approach could lead to dramatic improvements in board governance in the NHS – and that has good to be good for all aspects of NHS performance, not least for patient safety and overall quality of care.”
Healthcare Governance Review would go further and say that if the B-BAD devices help improve NHS governance then they can surely also be used with MPs to help improve the governance of the country? Mind you, how exactly do you remove badly behaving MPs who have been elected, independently, by the public?
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