NHS Board members all have a legal duty to follow the NHS Fife Board Code of Conduct. The Standards Commission for Scotland promotes and enforces the Codes of Conduct for members of devolved public bodies (such as NHS Boards and Integration Joint Boards), and publishes guidance to help those appointed as members of such bodies.
As a NHS Fife Board Member, you are personally responsible for:
- Ensuring that you are familiar with the provisions of the Code; and
- Ensuring that your actions comply with the provisions of the Code.
Some NHS Board Members will also be Councillors and / or members of an Integration Joint Board, and will also have to observe the Code of Conduct of those other bodies. As well as observing certain standards of General Conduct under section 3 of the Code and matters relating to Lobbying and Access to Members of Public Bodies under section 6, you also have to take the following actions:
Maintain your entry on the Register of Interests
The NHS Board itself has to create and publish the register, and has appointed the Board Secretary as the ‘Standards Officer’, who advises members on the Code, and keeps the Register up-to-date on the Board's website.
It is your responsibility to register any interest which the Code requires you to register, and keep your entries up-to-date. For example, you have a registerable interest when you own or have any other right or interest in houses, land and buildings, which may be significant to, of relevance to, or bear upon, the work and operation of the NHS Board. The test to be applied when considering appropriateness of registration is to ask whether a member of the public acting reasonably might consider any interests in houses, land and buildings could potentially affect your responsibilities to the NHS Board and to the public, or could influence your actions, speeches or decision-making.
You may also have to register the interest of close family members, who have or are likely to have, transactions or business with the Board.
Declare your interests
Declaration of interests comes under particular public scrutiny, and is commonly featured in complaints to the Standards Commissioner. It is important that the public and other stakeholders are confident that decisions are being made in the public interest and not for any other reason.
In addition to any registered interests, you may need to declare an interest at a meeting before a particular item is discussed. At the start of every meeting the chair shall invite members to declare any interests. Any interest you declare may or may not already be on the register of interests. When deciding whether or not to declare an interest, you need to consider the Objective Test: "where a member of the public with knowledge of the relevant facts would reasonably regard my connection to a particular matter as being so significant that it would be considered as being likely to influence the discussion or decision-making".
You also need to declare any financial or non-financial interests of any people or organisations you are connected with, e.g. spouse, partner, close relative or friend, employer or business partner.
The Standards Commission has granted a dispensation to NHS Board Members (and a similar one to councillors) who have been appointed as a member of an Integration Joint Board. "This is so members do not have to declare their interests when discussions on general health and social care issues arise and can participate in discussion and voting on these issues".
If you decide you have a connection or interest that requires to be declared, then you must declare it and not participate in any discussion on a related agenda item. In some instances, the Chair might require you to leave the meeting for the course of that item’s discussion.
You should identify the need to declare such connections or interests as early as possible and notify the chair of the meeting. If you have to leave the meeting, this may have an impact on whether the meeting will be in quorum when the item is being discussed. If you are the chair of a meeting, you should ensure there are arrangements in place for another member to take on the role of chair if you have to leave the meeting due to a declared interest.