19 November - non-executive directors webinar

19 November 2021

This week’s session began in conversation with Andrew George, NED at Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

Overheard during the discussion:

“Most of the ethics we deal with in everyday life are rules-based ethics. The other sorts of ethics are utilitarian ethics and both of these focus on actions. The three things you concentrate on in virtue ethics are thinking about what your moral purpose is, the virtues you need to achieve that moral purpose and then what is the applied wisdom to balance this all out.”

“One would assume the moral purpose of an NHS trust is protecting the people that they serve. One of the things that boards can start doing is align this moral purpose with the business purpose of the organisation.”

“One of the things we need to understand as board members is how we employ our virtues and use our character to get the best out of our organisations. For example, there may be a virtue in being trusting; we have all met board members who are not trusting enough but on the other hand too little trust is gullibility. We need to understand the context where we can dial up or dial down that virtue. You need to think in a positive sense how you are going to use that virtue and have the most impact for yourself and the organisation you are serving.”

“Under the new dispensation we will have to balance our duties towards place with our duties towards the wider integrated care system. NEDs are already getting together as committee chairs and as plenary meetings to talk about what we need to do and how we need to behave. My view is that the Nolan Principles will help us, but especially around selflessness.”

“We are starting a conversation in our board about maintaining the 'right thing to do' on behalf of our communities and patients when the external and regulatory environment may become increasingly at odds with that.”

“Having a very clear view of what your purpose is, is actually a way to help balance decisions when things get difficult – when you are in these grey zones and have conflicting arguments over having to make decisions that will harm some and benefit others. Having an end result that you want to get to can give you a moral compass to enable you to make the decision. It doesn’t make the decision any easier, but it does help to steer a way through.”

“Reducing health inequalities and improving population health should be our moral purpose at provider, commissioner and ICS level. Collaboration as a duty will be given effect not just because it's the right thing to do, but where there are accountabilities tied, either everyone wins or no one does. Each part of the system is accountable for other parts.”

These meetings are by invitation and are open to all NHS non-executives directors, chairs and associate non-executive directors of NHS providers. Others may attend by special invitation. For further details, visit our events page.

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions about these webinars, please contact: events@good-governance.org.uk