COMMENT - FOUNDATION NON-EXECUTIVES

Published: 26/05/2005, Volume II5, No. 5957 Page 3

There will be understandable interest in the money the Foundation Trust Network thinks foundation trust chairs and non-executive directors should be paid - in the case of chairs a threefold increase on the salaries of their non-foundation counterparts (news, page 5).

But is it enough, and are there sufficient non-execs with the necessary skills willing and available? If so, how will the NHS ensure it gets value for money?

The FTN proposals serve to highlight the poor rewards currently on offer to non-execs.

The proposed salaries are surely the minimum needed. After all, a good chair should have a much greater effect on trust performance than a single consultant, despite costing only half as much.

Are there enough non-execs with the right skills? Probably not. This is likely to create competition for the best people, with a resulting increase in pay which may boost the attractiveness of the role.

This likely pay inflation underlines the importance of trusts setting out very clearly what they expect from non-execs and how they will hold them to account.

For foundation trusts, that role falls to the governors; how well equipped will they be for this task?

Trusts should not be embarrassed by the appointment of relatively highlypaid non-execs. But they must be able to demonstrate that they have got the right person and that they are contributing significantly to the trust's performance.