Independent Chair

Eight Ninths Ltd believes strongly in the value independent assessment and evaluation can play in helping teams, services and organisations identify how best to proceed with development, improvement or conflict resolution.  This is why we offer independent reviews of governance, services, and disputes.  We also believe in the specific value that independent leadership can bring to boards, panels and committees.  We believe that this value includes:

  • Enabling the Board to make better decisions, by ensuring that there is a balance of interests between parties and organisations represented on the Board. This is especially important where there is one organisation-one vote system which disregards organisational size, market share or strategic role.
  • Offering realistic oversight to the Board on performance and organisational development, which is objective and neutral and which provides appropriate levels of challenge where relevant
  • Freedom to provide advice and judgement which is not influenced by individual organisational politics, ambitions or culture. The independent chair can keep a Board focused onits core purpose and values without ‘fear or favour’
  • Freedom to identify and challenge conflict of interest where these exist amongst non-independent board members
  • Enhanced ability to identify and resolve conflicts, as the chair’s independent status means that they can be trusted by all parties and can be relied to act in a neutral, objective and non-aligned manner
  • Championing inclusion, by seeking out different and discordant views and opinion, to help a Board avoid the trap of ‘groupthink’ and to ensure its work is continuously relevant to the purpose it is serving

Of course, being an independent chair of a Board or panel is an essential but not sufficient quality for these values to be realised.  The independent chair also needs to have a high degree of professional and personal credibility, as well as a high standard by which they conduct business.  They need to have a good understanding with the chief executive, but not too cosy a relationship; they need to have the confidence of stakeholders but not to ride personal ‘hobby horses’ to the detriment of stakeholders’ concerns.  Where these qualities are present in an independent chair, the values and benefits identified above can be realised in full, and the Board’s effectiveness measurably enhanced.

Chris O’Gorman was the independent chair of the local care organisation (then integrated delivery collaborative) in Bury, Greater Manchester, from 2017to 2023.  The collaborative was a partnership of 7 organisations delivering care and support in the borough, and was the lead agency for the transformation of local health and care systems.

Chris O’Gorman is also an independent chair for NHS England’s independent review panels for NHS continuing healthcare, and an independent chair for arbitration panels for continuing healthcare and complex care in Cheshire and Merseyside.

If you would like to find out more about the role we can play in helping you with independent chairing, please use the contact form.  We will look forward to hearing from you.