The NHS has embraced a target to achieve gender balanced boards.

This week senior figures from across the service gave it their backing.

Ed Smith, NHS Improvement chair and the health service’s gender diversity champion, said: “I accept that challenge and will work hard to drive that ambition through the NHS. Now let’s get to work.” 

Other leaders backing the target include University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust chief executive Jackie Daniel and former health secretary Stephen Dorrell. 

Find out what the target is and who else is backing it here.

The NHS Confederation is keen to see progress on the NHS achieving fairer representation of women on boards. In 2013, it asked senior leaders across the NHS to address gender inequality.

Helen Birtwhistle, NHS Confederation director of external affairs, said: “It is not acceptable, particularly with a predominantly female NHS workforce, and simply not fair, to allow gender imbalance to be perpetuated and I firmly believe that balanced boards better reflect the communities they serve.

“We know that there is robust evidence which showed that a diverse workforce, in which all staff members’ contributions are valued, is linked to good patient care.” 

Editor Alastair McLellan said HSJ would play its part in driving the ambition. “Setting a target is right – our health service can only perform well if it reflects the society it serves,” he said. “HSJ will do its bit to promote equality – we will endeavour to make sure that we have gender balanced panels at our conferences. Likewise, when I am invited to contribute to speak at external events I will not appear on all male panels if I can possibly help it.”