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Crohn's and Colitis UK: case study

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Scope
HBRL Consulting (Hilary Barnard and Ruth Lesirge) were commissioned by Crohn’s & Colitis UK to undertake a governance review. The review took place between March and June 2014.

Crohn’s & Colitis UK provides essential support and information for the 250,000+ people in the UK who suffer from these debilitating conditions.  The organisation, which is based in St.Albans, has 28,000 members and a turnover in excess of £3 million. 

Approach
A relatively new Chief Executive has been working with the Chair, Board and senior colleagues to modernise the organisational practice of Crohn’s & Colitis UK.  The Trustees and the Chief Executive agreed that an independent governance review formed an essential part of this updating; a key underpinning principle of the review was to respect the character of this large membership organisation and its strong self-help ethos.  

The HBRL governance review focused on both compliance and performance.  All Board members, medical advisers and senior managers were interviewed to get their assessment of current governance practices and ways in which these could be improved.  The aim was to achieve a real understanding not only of the structures and processes, but also of culture, values and ethos.

Part of our work was therefore to carry out a customised skills audit of existing Board members was carried out to identify strengths and skill gaps, the latter to inform future recruitment of new Board members. 

Sub Committee members were also surveyed with particular reference to their governance work and its relationship with the full Board.  This was followed by a Trustee training/development session at which participants were stimulated to explore how their governance responsibilities could be exercised in the best interests of the beneficiaries.

Finally, we produced a pithy and practical report was produced with detailed recommendations.  This was discussed with Board members who approved most of the recommendations. 

Subsequently, HBRL Consulting was commissioned to provide further consultancy to assist with implementation, the outputs of which were agreed at a further meeting with the Board.
 
Benefits
The governance review was a process that engaged all Board members, ensuring their ownership of the outcome of the review. 

There is a clearer demarcation between the respective roles of the Board and the Chief Executive and the senior management team. 

The Board has successfully addressed skill gaps through recruiting new members.

The Sub Committee structure has been streamlined to fit governance needs.  Short life Task Groups have been established in specific areas to help address priority issues for the Board.

Hilary Barnard, HBMC, 24 Leighton Grove, London NW5 2QP, UK
phone +44 20 7284 1566 : mobile +44 7831 784070 : email hilarybarnard@aol.com

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