Observing and attending HRA Board meetings: Common questions and answers

Last updated on 8 Jun 2023

To help you understand how our meetings held in public are run, we have compiled some common questions and answers. We hope you find this information helpful.

What is the purpose of the HRA Board?

The HRA is governed by a Board of Directors. Board meetings are a key part of the decision making and governance process for the HRA. The Board is responsible for making key decisions at its meetings, including relating to the HRA's strategic direction, overseeing delivery of the agreed strategy, the approach to risk, and establishing the culture and values of the organisations.

As part of its decision making responsibilities, the Board receives regular updates from the internal staff forum and the Community Insight Group, considering feedback and suggestions raised in these forums to support improvements to our work.

Key responsibilities for the Board include:

  • Approving the annual business plan and monitoring performance against it.
  • Holding the organisation to account for performance and the proper running of the organisation.
  • Ensuring financial resources are used wisely

For more information on how the HRA makes decisions and operates, please see our governance page.

Who can observe?

Anyone is welcome to observe the Board. Observers might include:

  • members of the public
  • members of the press
  • representatives from patient, carer and voluntary sector organisations
  • representatives from the research community

How do I register to observe the Board?

Please contact stephen.tebbutt@hra.nhs.uk if you would like to attend. Unfortunately it may not be possible for us to arrange for you to attend if you contact us later than 3 working days ahead of the meeting.

How do I observe the Board?

Observers can currently attend virtually, via Microsoft Teams. A Microsoft Teams link will be shared with you prior to the meeting.

Can I take part in the discussion?

No. As a public observer, you will be able to listen to the business of the meeting, except when confidential information is being discussed, however you will not be able to participate in the Board's discussions. If you have a question relating to an item on the agenda there will be opportunity to ask a question at the end of the meeting. You will however not be able to ask questions relating to topics not covered on the agenda, take part in voting or put your own views to members of the Board.

What should I do if I have a question?

At the end of the meeting there will be time to ask a question relating to items on the agenda.

To support the effective running of the Board meetings, questions which relate to other matters not detailed on the agenda must be asked prior to the meeting. Questions therefore must be sent to stephen.tebbutt@hra.nhs.uk. 24 hours prior to the date of the Board meeting.

What should I do if the Board asks me a question?

Feel free to give your personal views if you would like to. But you don’t have to. So don’t worry if you’re not sure what to say. If the Board needs to hear and learn from the views of service users, patients, carers, and other members of the public they will arrange for a specific consultation, advisory group, or other activity to make sure their decisions are informed by a wide range of views and experiences.

How will the meeting run?

At the start of the meeting the Chair will introduce himself. The Chair will then move on to the business of the meeting which are detailed in the agenda and will include the following items:

  • noting any apologies
  • reviewing the minutes from the previous meeting
  • considering if any members have a conflict of interest with any of the topics on the agenda
  • receiving updates from the Chief Executive and Chair
  • reviewing the strategic performance report which tracks the organisations performance against its objectives identified in the business plan
  • considering various other papers submitted to the Board for approval, discussion or for information. These will include policies, reports and updates.

Please note, there will be no verbal summary given of each paper when they are introduced, instead it is assumed that attendees have read them in advance. This is so the Board can focus its time on discussing the issues raised by the papers.

The Board will consider the items on the agenda in turn. Each Board item will have a cover sheet which will explain what the item is regarding and any actions the Board needs to take e.g. approving an item. Board members will ask questions or discuss each item as required. The length of time for each item will vary depending on the nature of the decision required.

If you have any questions regarding an item these can be considered after the meeting has finished. Questions should be sent to stephen.tebbutt@hra.nhs.uk.

Who will be present at the meeting?

The HRA is governed by a Board composed of five non-executive directors (including the Chair) and three executive directors. Other directors and other members of HRA staff may also be in attendance. Unfortunately it will not be possible to introduce all individuals present at the meeting however our Board members page provides photos of our directors for your information.

A representative from the staff forum is invited to attend each meeting and is given the opportunity to provide feedback directly to the Board regarding any matters which the staff forum would like to raise.

Will papers be provided for observers to follow?

Yes. An agenda and relevant papers are published on the Board agenda, papers and minutes page. Please note the minutes from the previous meeting will only be published after they have been approved at the subsequent meeting.

Can I attend the whole meeting?

This depends on whether some of the information the Board needs to discuss is confidential. If it is, then all public observers will be asked to leave the meeting while these discussions take place. This is called the Part 2 - Confidential Session.

What will be discussed in the Part 2 - Confidential Session?

The Board aims to operate openly and transparently however, on occasion, it may be necessary to consider items in private. Topics on a Part 2 - Confidential Session agenda may include:

  • items which could not be discussed in public as they would contravene the Data Protection Act 2018 or any other Act of Parliament prohibiting or restricting the disclosure of information by or to a third party
  • commercially-sensitive information and legal advice
  • matters relating to personnel e.g. disciplinary and grievance issues
  • any other matter which, by reason of its nature, the Board is satisfied should be dealt with on a confidential basis

Do I have to stay for the entire meeting?

No. You can leave the meeting at any time and do not need to notify the Chair of your intention to do so.

What if I have specific accessibility requirements?

If you have any specific accessibility requirements, please contact stephen.tebbutt@hra.nhs.uk in advance of the meeting who will endeavour to resolve these prior to the meeting.

Can I record and take notes at the virtual committee meeting?

You are welcome to take notes during the meeting however audio or video recording, live reporting and taking screen shots of Board meetings is not allowed by public observers. If a public observer is found to be recording a meeting they will be removed from the meeting. We may also restrict public observers who cause a disruption from attending any future meetings.

What if I've been specifically invited to attend for an item?

In addition to HRA staff members, occasionally other individuals may be invited to present or participate in the discussion of an item. For example this might be a member of one of the HRA's Research Ethics Committees, or the Confidentiality Advisory Group or a member of our Public Involvement Network who has been asked to provide their view on a particular item or issue. Those individuals invited to present or participate are welcome to contribute fully to the discussion and are encouraged to voice their opinion and ask questions of the Board regarding that particular item.

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