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Strengthening our Board and governance for exciting challenges ahead

By Andrew Vallance-Owen

04/03/2021
Recently, we announced the appointment of three new Non-Executive Directors to the PHIN Board. We’re delighted with these new appointments, and they are indicative of where PHIN is going in the next five years. Of course, we will continue to be a consultative organisation, working closely with hospitals and consultants, but above and beyond that we recognise the need to place greater emphasis on delivering information which meets the real needs of consumers and patients.

Our new Non-Executive Directors bring with them a broad range of expertise, including Mr. Nigel Mercer, a prominent figure within the consultant community and distinguished plastic surgeon with a private practice based in Bristol. The other new appointments are consumer champions in unique ways: Kay Boycott brings a wealth of experience in marketing and digital content from her previous roles, and Nina Hingorani-Crain has great experience in developing information and services to meet the needs of consumers and patients; both are also current members of NHS Foundation Trust Boards. 

I believe that these new appointments will really help move PHIN forward. However, to ensure that we continue to have the right people steering the company, particularly as we move into this new phase, we will develop a rolling program of renewal. These appointments are part of larger changes we expect to see over the coming years as we maintain good board governance.

PHIN’s board was initially set up in 2013 and our various Non-Executive Directors (NEDs) have brought different expertise and knowledge along the way. We have been extremely lucky to have a diverse Board from a range of backgrounds, including consultants who have worked in the NHS and private sector, people nominated by providers, insurers and the Competition and Markets Authority, and a number of independent NEDs; coming, for instance, from health economics and the business world. 

There have only been two changes since 2013, with one Director changing sector and another relocating to Australia. The stability of the Board from the very beginning has greatly enabled PHIN to develop as a newly established company, particularly as we worked to get data in and build our relationships with our Member stakeholders. Implementing an all-encompassing data collection was a huge process but, with the support of this highly experienced Board,  PHIN has made great progress and grown. I am extremely grateful for all of their contributions thus far. 

However, as the company has grown, and we enter into a new phase with our 2021-25 strategic plan, due out later this year, it is appropriate for the board to evolve. This will involve the implementation of a new system of NED appointments. In line with good corporate governance, each member, including the Chair, will be appointed for three years in the first instance but, after review, may stay on for a further three years. I have sat on Boards for healthcare organisations previously and know first-hand that a lack of turnover and refreshment in Board members can lead to softening of challenge and stasis. 

A number of our NEDs joined at the same time in 2013 so, to enable continuity as we make this structured change, we will be commencing a rotating program of retirements  over the next few years. This will ensure that our new members have time to ‘get their feet under the table’ and the Board can undergo constant refreshment.

It is always a good idea to have new blood and our three new NEDs are already bringing in new ideas. As the Board develops its strategy to tackle the opportunities and challenges ahead, I am convinced that we have the right team in place to move us from strength to strength. Indeed, I am excited for the future of PHIN as we accelerate our work to bring accessible, high quality information to healthcare consumers and patients over the next few years.