Hemel Hempstead Labour candidate raises concerns over 'lack of Dacorum representation' on West Herts NHS Trust board

The trust argues that non-executive director roles are skills-based
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Hemel Hempstead’s Labour candidate has raised concerns about a lack of representation for Dacorum on the board of the West Hertfordshire NHS Trust.

But the trust says all board members consider the needs of people across all areas – not in defined local areas.

The upcoming appointment of a new non-executive director has brought to light that none of the current non-executive directors (NEDs) live in the Dacorum borough.

Labour candidate David Taylor has requested a meeting with the trust.Labour candidate David Taylor has requested a meeting with the trust.
Labour candidate David Taylor has requested a meeting with the trust.

Acting as critical friends, non-executive directors hold the executive directors to account, also working with them to formulate strategy by bringing independent, external perspectives.

Prior to the appointment deadline, Labour candidate David Taylor, has requested a meeting with the trust following concerns raised by residents, including the Dacorum Health Action Group.

David intends to raise recruitment guidance with trust members, that advises ‘applicants should live in or have strong connections with the area served by the trust’. He also aims to seek assurances that criteria is in place to reflect concerns among the community about health care services, and the on-going controversy over expansion plans for Watford General Hospital.

Mr Taylor said: “Dacorum has the highest population in Hertfordshire. It is absurd that we don’t have any representation of the board of the trust which makes decisions every day about health services affecting the lives of thousands of patients.

“It is my understanding that none of the nine full and associate non-executive members of the Trust Board has a main residence in Dacorum. This is especially concerning in light of ongoing uncertainty about the future development of Hemel Hospital and the provision of services across the borough.

“I am seeking a meeting so we can bring some clarity to the situation and reassure Dacorum residents there is someone on the board who is sympathetic to their concerns.”

The trust argued that, unlike councillors or MPs, a NED’s role is not to represent a locality but to take on skills-based appointments. Examples provided by the trust include chairing a committee, such as the audit committee where financial experience is necessary.

A trust spokesperson added: “NHS Non-executive director roles are recruited based on skills and experience needed to discharge the duties of the board. For example, our most recent vacancy, closing on November 1, needs someone with nursing, midwifery or allied health professional experience.

“All members of the board must consider the needs of patients and the public across all the areas we cover, without taking on a specific role to represent defined local areas. The recruitment of non-executive directors is governed by NHS England policies, which do not require candidates to be from the trust’s catchment area. However, at West Herts we have added the requirement that NEDs live locally.”

The trust is currently recruiting for someone with experience of working as a senior clinical leader in a hospital, with a commitment to championing innovation, quality improvement and patient safety, and of understanding of complex strategic issues to achieve enhanced delivery of clinical services. Applicants should live in or have strong connections with the area served by the trust.

Visit the trust website for more information.