The must-read stories and debate in health policy and leadership.

Board members will soon be judged on whether they speak up against discrimination and challenge others constructively under a new appraisal framework developed by NHS England. 

NHSE unveiled the new framework this week, which contains six new competencies that leaders must benchmark themselves against as part of their annual “fitness” appraisals. 

Leaders must answer each statement within the competency domains through multiple choice – ranging from “almost always” to “no chance to demonstrate” – before discussing the assessments with their chair or chief executive. 

Organisations have been told to incorporate the new competencies into job descriptions from 1 April, which applies to all NHS providers, integrated care boards and NHSE themselves. 

It forms part of a long and overdue response to Tom Kark KC’s review of the regulations from five years ago. 

Mr Kark carried out a review of the NHS’s fit and proper person test in November 2018 before NHSE finally announced an overhaul of the regulations last August

The plan was accompanied by a new chair appraisal framework, which contains all the new competencies but also requires approval from NHSE’s chief operating officer, Emily Lawson. 

A new board member appraisal framework is also expected to be published this autumn.

Lesson learned

The lack of a joint strategy between two trusts was a key factor behind the rejection of a bid to replace a hospital nearing the end of its life, the CEO of a newly formed trust “group” has said.

North Tees and Hartlepool and South Tees Hospitals trusts have this month formed a “hospital group” following a controversial process towards shared leadership between the two trusts.

Stacey Hunter, chief executive of the group, said the previous lack of a clinical strategy between the two trusts was a “limiting” factor behind the £380m bid to replace University Hospital North Tees.

She told HSJ the group is now working on a joint clinical strategy to inform the future plans to replace UH North Tees. The trust has warned the lifespan for the hospital will be “exhausted” by 2030.

She also said she expected “open and honest discussions” about the new shared leadership model. The hospital group was effectively ordered by an NHSE investigation, while MPs and council leaders have previously raised concerns about the process.

Also on today

An ambulance trust chair has announced his departure, little more than a year after he took up the post, and we report that a large hospital trust has rejected NHSE analysis suggesting its productivity has fallen by nearly a fifth post-pandemic.