ICSA launches their report on NHS governance

The Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA) launched their research report on NHS governance in London yesterday (Wednesday 20 July 2011).

Titled ‘Mapping the gap’ the report highlights the disconnect between governance best practice and reality in the NHS in England.

The ‘Mapping the gap’ research project was initiated to examine the degree to which Trust boards in the NHS understood issues of governance, and the extent to which actual boardroom behaviour reflected guidance on best practice. ICSA analysed 1,277 board agendas, received 176 responses to an online questionnaire, observed 20 board meetings (open and closed) and interviewed participating board members. The data gathered provides a unique snapshot of current board governance practice in the NHS.

The findings from the research highlight:

  • organisations which have embedded good governance, especially where the right balance of scrutiny, challenge and respect has been achieved in the boardroom;
  • the differences between the understanding of good governance from the perspectives of executive directors, non-executive directors and company secretaries; and
  • the degree to which behavioural governance has been understood, accepted and promoted by NHS boards.

At the launch, Seamus Gillen, Policy Director at ICSA, stressed the importance of good governance, which, he said, ensures organisational efficiency and effectiveness and helps satisfy the accountability agenda. Good accountability, he said, leads to transparency, builds trust and confidence in an organisation, and thereby enhances an organisation’s reputation.

Louise Thomson, Head of Policy – Not for Profit at ICSA, and principal author of the report, said that there is “too much fog and not enough substance around governance [in the NHS]. There is not the clarity. We need better guidance.”

The report should be essential reading for NHS board members, company/trust secretaries and anyone else with an interest in board governance in the NHS.

An interesting perspective on the Mapping the gap report and launch is provided by the Health Service Journal (a subscription may be required).

The full report Mapping the gap – Highlighting the disconnect between governance best practice and reality in the NHS can be downloaded here.

Update 23 July 2011 – Read David Brindle’s article in the Guardian newspaper, here. David is the Guardian’s public services editor and chaired the ICSA report launch.

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