Support for chairs and non-executives


Useful information for newly appointed chairs and non-executive directors of NHS providers to support them in their roles.

Values and behaviours

Public service values are at the heart of the NHS and as a chair or non-executive director, you're expected to subscribe, understand and commit to the personal behaviours, values, technical competence and business practices outlined in the The standards for members of NHS boards and clinical commissioning group governing bodies in England.

The NHS Leadership Model describes nine behaviours that contribute towards strong and effective NHS leaders. You'll need to demonstrate this range of behaviours and the highest standards of conduct required to contribute effectively in your role. 

The fit and proper persons requirement also plays a major part in ensuring that people with director level responsibility for the quality and safety of care, and for meeting the fundamental standards, are suitable to carry out these important roles. If your circumstances change then please alert your trust of anything that may affect your suitability for appointment. Our guidance explains the requirement in more detail. 


A comprehensive local induction programme is critical to the success of new chairs and non-executive directors. Your individual trusts will determine how they are delivered depending on local circumstances but an overview of areas that should be covered is set out in our guidance.

Participation in more formal induction training is also important and we're working with NHS Providers to offer a structured induction programme for all new appointees.  Further information is available on their website.

The NHS foundation trusts: Code of Governance and The Healthy NHS board outline principles for good governance to support boards in exercising their responsibility to put quality at the heart of all they do.

Declaration of interests

Chairs and non-executive directors should act impartially and you should not be influenced by social or business relationships. No one should use their public position to further their private interests and any conflict of interest needs to be dealt with in accordance with existing codes that operate within your trust.  

Where there is a potential for private interests to be material and relevant to NHS business, you should declare the relevant interests so they can be recorded in the board minutes and entered into a register which is available to the public. Where a conflict of interest is established, the board director should withdraw and play no part in the relevant discussion or decision.

Performance appraisal

An effective appraisal process is important to ensure that chairs and non-executives feel motivated, well supported and confident to deal with the many issues and challenges they will face in their role. An effective appraisal will enable chairs and non-executives to evaluate their performance, receive constructive feedback, build upon strengths and address any areas for development.

Chairs are responsible for ensuring that non-executive directors receive regular appraisals of their performance, at least annually. Trusts can determine the approach to appraisal that is most relevant to their own circumstances. To support an effective appraisal process we have created a good practice guide.

Chair networks

We co-ordinate events for provider chairs to discuss topical issues and challenges and to receive an update on what’s happening in their region. Email our Non-Executive Development Manager, Keely Howard for more information. 

Visiting guidelines

If you are required to visit wards or other areas with access to patients as part of your role, please ensure:

  • it is clear why you are visiting and what your expected outcome is
  • the visit is planned beforehand, identifying where you are going and who you'll need to speak to, notifying senior staff well in advance
  • you are accompanied when visiting areas that give access to patients
  • you identify yourself to ward staff who should be clear about the purpose of your visit
  • when speaking to patients ensure you explain who you are and why you're visiting

Public appointments made by NHS Improvement

We have a specific role in appointing and supporting NHS trust chairs and non-executive directors. Although the information is specific to the NHS trust chairs and non-executive director appointments, NHS foundation trusts may find this a useful source of guidance for their own appointments.

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