DH Management Committee Meeting, November 2011

Summary note of the DH Management Committee Meeting held on 17 November 2011 between 10:00 and 13:00 in the Boardroom, Richmond House, London.  The purpose of the meeting was to keep the focus on the design of the new DH.  The meeting included discussion on DH design and functions mapping, the DH and the Commissioning Board policy interface, HR processes and Staff engagement.


Permanent Secretary
Director General, Social Care, Local Government & Care Partnerships
Director General, Policy, Strategy and Finance
Director General, Chief Nursing Officer
Director General, NHS Medical Director
Director General, Transition for the Department of Health
Director General, Health Improvement & Protection
Managing Director NHS and Social Care Workforce
Managing Director, NHS Informatics

In Attendance

Director, Transition Programme
Director of Research and Development
Director Public Health England transition
Director of Policy, Commissioning & Primary Care
Director of Provider Delivery
Head of Internal Communications
Deputy Director of HR
Interim HR Business Partner (for item 3)
Member of the Transformation Policy team (for item 2)
Deputy Director – Head of Engagement & Change, Transformation Team
Director Policy Support (for item 2)
Principle Private Secretary to the Permanent Secretary


Chief Medical Officer
Director General, NHS Finance, Performance & Operations
National Managing Director of Commissioning Development
Director, Digital Communications and Information Strategy
Managing Director, Provider Development
Managing Director, Transition -Public Health England


Deputy Director,  DH secretariat

Welcome & Introduction and Minutes and Action Note of October DHMC Meeting

1.1 Members were welcomed to the meeting.  The minutes and actions from the October meeting were agreed without comment.

1.2 The Permanent Secretary explained that the purpose of the meeting was to keep the focus on the design of the new Department of Health.  She reminded colleagues that the aim of the Department was to achieve the best possible health and care outcomes for the people of England.  The Department of the future would need to have strong relationships with the NHS, social care and public health systems and would need to be focussed on outcomes and accountability.

1.3 The Permanent Secretary also reminded colleagues that the department was currently undergoing a  Capability Review and said that the three emerging themes were:

  • Clarifying direction –  whilst the department had set out a clear direction on the new structures it needed to be stronger on its strategic ambition for health and care and this ought to be connected to excellent evidence, insight and analysis;
  • Developing  people – the department had many strengths and skills but now needed to clarify how these would need to evolve and improve to aid DH in its new role;
  • Collaboration and building common purpose – this was a very important  area, which needed to be understood at all levels of the department as well as across DH’s ALBs.

DH Design – general progress report since last meeting

DH Design and functions mapping

2.1 The Director General of Transition for the Department of Health presented this item.  She said that significant progress had been made since the last meeting.

2.2 The focus now was on designing the process for transferring functions and people and she would be in a position to update members on this work at the December meeting.

The Department of Health and the Commissioning Board: policy interface

2.3 The Director of Policy Support presented a paper on the DH and NHS Commissioning Board policy interface.  The boundary between the policies of Ministers and the NHS Commissioning Board and its operational response could not be easily defined.   In reality, individual Secretaries of State were likely to retain a great deal of discretion over policy making and the Department would support them in the best way possible.

2.4 The key difference between current arrangements and those in the new system was that the Department set policy for the NHS solely through the annual mandate.  This  should reduce the volume of policy material produced by the Department and was likely to move the Department to focus on more strategic and long-term matters.

HR Processes

3.1 On SCS appointments, the Director of Communications and DH Head of News post had now been successfully filled.   The new Director of Comms would be starting in December.  The DH Director of Nursing post had been advertised and had attracted a good field of candidates.  Following the HR processes, 7 SCS2 vacancies had been identified and 23 SCS 1&2 exits (under the VES scheme) would occur between October 2011 and March 2012.

3.2 The Director General of Transition for the Department of Health told members that the process would end by December.

3.3 Colleagues agreed that the handling of information about vacancies and potential function transfers was extremely important, particularly in areas where staff might be moving to new areas and/or to work for new Directors General.

3.4 With regard to informing staff about whether they had been slotted in or not, it was agreed that an integrated approach was needed that could provide the high-level picture and timetable as well as more bespoke information for people about their individual situation and options.

3.5 Staff who were in transition roles should be reassured that they would not find themselves disadvantaged in terms of future opportunities post transition.   Where it was clear that staff would be moving out of the department, but not until April 2013, getting the messaging and information right to keep engagement levels high was also crucial.

Staff engagement

4.1. The Permanent Secretary introduced this item and told members that staff participation in the staff survey had gone up since last year. Scores around pay and conditions had gone down, but these were civil service wide issues so there was a limited amount the department itself could do to mitigate these.

4.2 It was noted that there was definitely room for improvement but that DH remained broadly in line with the overall results for the rest of Whitehall.

Face to Face revised

4.3. The Head of Internal Communications talked members through a revised Face to Face process.  She said that following the last DHMC meeting she had spoken with some of the DGs about how this process could be refreshed and improved, Based on their input, the communications team would be producing a shorter core script and would focus instead  or 4 or 5 key messages to cascaded to staff.

4.4. Colleagues were reminded that “Face to Face” was a DG-driven process.  Comms would provide the raw material but it was down to senior colleagues to speak to their managers and ensure that the messages were passed on to all staff.

4.5. Members were shown an example of a refreshed Face to Face template, which they approved for use going forward.

Business Planning

5.1. The Deputy Director of HR asked members to note the proposed approach for business planning for 2012/13 and to approve the publication of the draft guidance.

5.2. The Permanent Secretary would review the document and provide feedback / steer on final amendments and the guidance should be published end November / early December.


6.1. None

The date of the next meeting was Thursday 15th December.   The meeting closed at 1pm

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