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NHS GG&C - good practice in planning, publicity and assessment - 2016

Key learning outcomes

  • Using different person specifications when filling multiple posts results in more diverse appointments
  • Understanding the diversity of the population that the body serves informs appropriate outreach
  • Genuine community engagement generates interest, applications and credibility
  • Aligning outreach activity to the type of people you want to apply generates more applications from a more diverse pool
  • Simulating a board activity during assessment has high levels of validity. 


The round was started in late October 2015 to identify five new members for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. During the course of planning, the chair of the body and the appointing minister concluded that eight new board members were required. This was because a proportion of the additional new members would help to further support the board’s work with the Integration Joint Boards (IJBs). NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde participates in six such Health and Social Care Integration Partnerships.

Because of this, and the support and guidance that the Public Appointments Adviser (PAA) could offer, the chair of the panel asked the Commissioner if the oversight level could be raised. This would allow for the PAA’s participation throughout the round as a full panel member. The Commissioner was content to allow for this and so the panel was made up of the official who chaired it, the chair of the body, who himself was relatively new to his role, and a PAA allocated by the Commissioner. The panel chair, Colin Brown, had successfully previously piloted a number of new approaches for health board rounds including for NHS Fife and NHS Dumfries and Galloway. His experience helped to support further good practice on this occasion.  

The round used the relatively new core skills framework to clearly articulate board needs and to aid with consistent assessment. As this health board round was run at the same time as two others, each of the allocated PAAs also had an opportunity to together consider how some of the bespoke criteria for these rounds might be adapted to be as welcoming and accessible to as wide a range of potential applicants as possible. This included adapting a previously standard geographical criterion, which was quite restrictive in nature, to make the posts open to a wider pool of applicants.


The Scottish Government’s Public Appointments Team (PAT) Manager entered into early discussions with the secretary to the board and the new board chair to help to inform the minister’s views on the board’s strategy and skills requirements. This led to the identification of areas in which the board could be strengthened. These fell into the following broad categories, a proportion of which had to have been expressed in the context of engaging with communities:

  • primary care 
  • legal 
  • contracting and procurement 
  • voluntary organisations and third sector and
  • patient, service user and carer perspectives.

It was also identified that the board lacked representation of younger people. 

During planning the panel established that it would be helpful for new members who were going to be taking on IJB roles to have experience of the type of negotiations and discussions that characterise the work of those bodies. These skill sets were different to those required for the other new members. This allowed for appropriate diversification of the person specifications to ensure that they were not unnecessarily restrictive and to ensure that a range of different board needs could be met with a single competition. It also meant that tailored and appropriate approaches could be taken to the stages of attraction and assessment.  In this context, the panel took the time to consider a recent report on the demographic profile of the people served by the health board. This differs markedly from other health board areas and it has ramifications for positive action measures.   

The final person specification was headed by the skills common to both the IJB and other board roles followed by skills considered specific to each. The appointing minister and chair of the body placed considerable emphasis on the importance of the community engagement positions and so this featured as the first of the priority criteria for selection. The PAT Manager also adapted previously standard wording in the applicant guidance to make it more inviting to the target pool. This was specifically intended to help potential applicants to understand that the board was not seeking to find eight people with experience of serving on boards and that applications from people who were not ‘in the system’ were genuinely welcomed.  


As well as publicising the opportunities through a range of channels the selection panel decided to publicise them by running open events to encourage people to apply. Two open meetings were held on the same day in Maryhill in Glasgow in a community venue and attracted about 100 people. They were run to give people an overview of the public appointments process and inform them about the specific arrangements for this round. Speakers also described the work of the board and the role played by board members. A current member was present as well as the board chair. There was a Q&A session and time allowed too for more informal discussion over refreshments with the board chair, the board member and the panel chair. These open sessions were held in an area that is not normally associated with board open days. They were very successful at attracting a variety of potential candidates including a great many who had not previously considered applying for a public appointment.  

The PAT manager gathered and analysed the feedback from attendees to help to inform future activities of this nature.

Application and Assessment

Applicants were invited to complete a straightforward written application and those who were successfully shortlisted took part in a practical test and interview. Because significant effort had gone into drafting the applicant information pack and into describing the type of evidence that the panel was looking for a fairly high number of people – 192 – applied. Twenty three were shortlisted for interview over a five day period. The field of applicants and candidates at both stages of the competition was very diverse, reflecting the population served by the board.  

The candidates were invited to come 30 minutes prior to interview to read a board paper, which had already been discussed at a recent board meeting.  Candidates were invited to comment on the paper and identify one question they would feel important and relevant to ask at the board meeting if they were present. This type of simulated activity enabled candidates to demonstrate their communication and analytical skills as well as giving a sense of their broader principles and approach to dealing with health issues.


The enhanced processes used for planning and design of this competition, the use of the adapted core skills framework and the arrangements for attraction and assessment all contributed to a successful outcome. You can find out who was appointed by following this link to the press release.

More information

More detailed information on any of the materials referred to in this brief report can be obtained from Colin Brown, Deputy Director in the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates who chaired the panel:
Tel: 0131 244 2131

You can also obtain more detailed information from Ian Bruce, the Public Appointments Manager in the CESPLS office:
Tel: 0131 347 3897