Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust leads the way creating innovative and diverse Shadow Board reflecting broader staff and patient views

Posted: November 28 2022

Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust leads the way creating innovative and diverse Shadow Board reflecting broader staff and patient views

Like all NHS Trusts, Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust’s (HCT) board meets regularly to make important decisions. These help to set out and develop the strategic direction of the organisation, maintaining business growth and holding the executive directors to account for all aspects of the organisation’s activities.

Until recently the board had to take on these responsibilities alone, without having full representation that exists amongst the rich diversity found amongst the local population.

HCT’s CEO Elliot Howard-Jones said: “I feel this lack of diversity is a yawning gap in our knowledge and through this we can use the rich diverse experiences of members of the board to better understand our community. So, I decided to borrow an idea from technology companies, who have a Shadow Board of tech-savvy, young people advising their directors about potential, future innovations!

“I believe we are the first NHS Trust in the country to create a Shadow Board and hope as a result, to deliver even higher standards of tailored care in the community. This insight will also help us better nurture and care for our greatest asset, namely our diverse and hard-working staff.”

When asked why Justine Musiime HCT Physiotherapist and Care Home Clinical Lead, decided to join the Shadow Board she said: “I noticed the Trust was interested in seeing change with regards to equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI).

“During the covid pandemic, our trust leadership demonstrated an incredible level of commitment towards staff wellbeing. At the time BAME staff were also considered more vulnerable to the virus. Since joining HCT at the beginning of the covid pandemic, I have seen the level of commitment the Trust leaders have demonstrated towards improving staff experience for all.

“Unfortunately, racism and discrimination still exist in our workplaces and some of it is deeply rooted in the systems and structures within our institutions. Diversity in policy and decision making is fundamental if we are going have organisations that are inclusive and where all staff feel like they belong.

“I am excited to be part of the HCT Shadow Board which I truly believe will amplify the voices of those who would otherwise not be heard and therefore make HCT a great place to work for all.”

Going forward HCT’s Shadow Board will look at the Trust strategies, policies and planned activities with an EDI lens, which will work well for the underrepresented staff and patients. Staff will then feel they are being listened to which will in turn improve staff members’ sense of belonging, engagement, and innovative working. This will inevitably lead to improved patient care and better outcomes. Having members from disadvantaged people groups contributing to decision-making has also been found to play key role in tackling health inequalities.


Shadow Board Members were selected from the following groups:

• Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic background
• Living with a disability or long-term condition (DLTC)
• Identifying as LGBTQI+
• Those staff members with carer responsibilities

Any staff are also welcomed to join the HCT Shadow Board who have relevant experience and transferable skills to share from their out-of-work activities, or with a great understanding of new technology, or with a passion for tackling health inequalities.

In the first instance, membership of the Shadow Board will be limited to around 12-14 staff, so that it is small enough for everyone to participate. Membership will initially be for a period of one year. The Shadow Board will have an agenda covering some of the key issues being reviewed by Trust sub-committees and the Trust Board. These may include, for example, items on the overall Trust direction, service developments, quality issues, business development opportunities, Care Quality Commission plans, sustainability/green plans, and any work to tackle health inequalities


Notes to editors

For any further information or interview requests please contact HCT’s Communications Team via tony.gray2@nhs.net M:07785433701

About Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust

Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust provides a range of health services for adults and children who live across Hertfordshire. Our services are vast and range from school nursing and health visiting for children and young people, to district nurses, diabetes services, rehabilitation in community hospitals and other specialist services for adults and children. Our website - www.hct.nhs.uk – has full information on all our services and latest news.

If you are a journalist or media representative requiring further information contact our communications team on (01707) 388148 or via communications@hct.nhs.uk