A register of poorly performing NHS directors is to be set up and maintained by the Care Quality Commission to prevent “unfit” managers working and moving between health and care providers.

The list is to be established under plans to introduce a “fit and proper person test” for boards of all providers registered with the CQC, details of which were published by the Department of Health today.

The regulator will record concerns about individual directors, specifically including where directors resign ahead of the CQC taking intervention action at their organisation.

Individuals who the CQC deems unfit would be barred from joining a new organisation. It will prevent failed senior managers from moving between different providers, the government claims.

The CQC will apply the test when providers apply for registration with the CQC, when a new director is recruited, and each time a provider is inspected.

The DH published draft legal regulations on the test for consultation today.

Creating a fit and proper person test in healthcare was a recommendation of the Francis public inquiry report, published last year, into failures at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust. Ministers hope the new test, which will have a right of appeal, could be in place in October.

An impact assessment of the policy by the DH assumes that approximately seven directors would be found to be unfit each year. It estimates running the scheme will cost £2m a year.

The regulations state that to qualify as a fit and proper person a director must:

  • Not have been responsible for misconduct or mismanagement in the course of any employer with a CQC registered provider;
  • Be capable of undertaking the position;
  • Be of good character;
  • Have the qualifications, skills and experience necessary for the role;
  • Not be prohibited from holding the position under existing laws.

Specific instances which could lead to a director being deemed unfit include if they have been convicted of a criminal offence or sentenced to three months in prison within the last five years; they are the subject of a bankruptcy order; they have undischarged arrangements with creditors; or are included on any barring list preventing them working with children and vulnerable adults.

The test will apply to board director and equivalent roles, including executive directors, non-executive directors, chairs and trustees. It will not apply to foundation trust governors. The DH said NHS England would explore developing a parallel set of rules for clinical commissioning groups.

Care minister Norman Lamb said: “Scandals like Winterbourne View and Mid Staffs damaged confidence in our health and care system. This test will allow us to make sure that those leading health and care organisations are up to the job - and to remove those who are not, including those who have presided over poor care.”

The consultation on the draft regulations runs until next month.