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The following is a summary of the Council’s membership policies and procedures. It covers:

  1. The Nuffield Council on Bioethics
  2. The Council and make-up of the Membership Committee
  3. The responsibilities of the Membership Committee
  4. Recruitment process
  5. Membership terms
  6. Renewal process
  7. Induction process

1. The Nuffield Council on Bioethics

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics (NCOB) is an independent body that examines and reports on ethical issues in biology and medicine. It includes three important elements:

  • The Council is the deliberative body of the NCOB. Its main role is to consider questions of strategic direction, topic identification, review of ongoing work and to oversee the range and quality of outputs and activities. It has sixteen members including the Chair.
  • The Executive team provides project management and support, assists with drafting and researching the Council’s publications, organises meetings and events, and represents the NCOB at professional and public meetings. The team also manage the financial, administrative, and external relations functions.
  • The Governing Board is appointed by the NCOB’s funders and is responsible for reviewing and challenging the work of the NCOB, providing assurance that it is operating within its remit and is committing expenditure in line with the terms of the funding grant and the goals of the Strategic Plan.

2. The Membership Committee

The Membership Committee is responsible for managing the recruitment of new members, with the Council having overall control. It has an independent chair and is made up of Council members and a member of the NCOB’s Governing Board. Its current members are:

  • Sarah Guerra - (Independent Chair) Director of King's College London’s Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (Independent Chair)
  • Dave Archard - Council Chair and Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at Queen’s University Belfast
  • Frances Flinter - Council member and Emeritus Professor of Clinical Genetics at Guy’s & St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust
  • Elaine Gadd – Council member and former Consultant Psychiatrist, with extensive experience in national and international bioethics policy
  • Anne Kerr - Council member and Professor of Sociology and Head of the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Glasgow
  • Brian Scott – member of the Governing Board and Chairperson at Meningitis Research Foundation

The NCOB’s Director, Hugh Whittall and Executive Administrator, Carol Perkins, attend in an advisory capacity.

3. The responsibilities of the Membership Committee

The Membership Committees’ responsibilities are:

  • To advise the Council on membership policies and processes, including:
  • Recruitment process
  • Renewals process
  • Role description and code of conduct
  • Consider what disciplines or areas of expertise should be recruited
  • Short list posts and make recommendations to the Council
  • Discuss renewals and make recommendations to the Council
  • Review the effectiveness and outcome of each recruitment process
  • Where appropriate, be consulted over breaches in the Code of Conduct

4. Recruitment process

The stages of recruitment are as follows:

  • What disciplines are advertised - With reference to the current make-up of Council in terms of expertise and experience, the Membership Committee recommends to the Council what disciplines should be advertised.
  • Advertising - The way that posts are advertised will vary depending on the discipline and if the organisation is trying to reach a particular group. Candidates will be asked how they learned of the recruitment process to enable advertising methods to be monitored and improved. Methods used include the following:
    • NCOB newsletter / website.
    • Social media.
    • A list is maintained of potential members who have either expressed an interest or who have been identified as potential candidates.
    • Depending on the disciplines being recruited – organisations such as professional bodies, charities, royal colleges and university departments are contacted.
    • Adverts in the relevant media / newsletters.
    • Suggestion are sought from Council members (including some former Council members) and others, for example the network of affiliates, funders, Governing Board, key contacts and the Executive. The Membership Committee and the Council are made aware of applications received as a result of such recommendations.
    • The Membership Committee and Council are made aware of the source of all applications, so comparisons can be made and practices reviewed.
  • Information for candidates - Interested individuals will be directed to an information pack on the website, which will consist of information on how the Council works, current work programme, a role description and code of conduct.
  • Short-listing – A long-list is prepared by the Chair and Director using criteria established by the Membership Committee. The Membership Committee then produces a short list for interview which is shared with the Council for feedback. At both stages a full list of applicants is made available which includes basic information on their current position and details of any previous contact with the Council.
  • Interviews - All shortlisted candidates are interviewed. Interviews are normally carried out by a combination of the Council Chair, another member of the Membership Committee, a member of the Governing Board and others as needed. Ideally the same people will see all the candidates in any one category. Candidates are scored using the following criteria:
    • A demonstratable interest in bioethics – this could be a professional interest or an interest that comes from general engagement with bioethical issues.
    • A willingness to contribute to ethical debate in an open and constructive manner by contributing thoughts and ideas and by listening to and respecting the views of others from a wide range of disciplines and positions.
    • A willingness and ability to work with others in a multidisciplinary environment, where all contributions are valued. This includes working with the other members of the Council, the Executive and individuals who might attend Council events and can include academics, healthcare workers, individuals personally affected by issues, policy-makers and people from a variety of professions.
    • An understanding and commitment to the aims and values of the Council and to maintaining the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion in all of its activities.
  • Recommendations to Council - The interview committee decides who should be recommended to Council.
  • Decision – The Council decides whether it is happy to endorse the interview committee’s recommendations. Any relevant conflicts of interest with the short-listed candidates should be made clear. The Council can reject recommendations. Reasons for rejection and any more general concerns are referred back to the Membership Committee.

5. Membership terms

The initial term for membership is three years, with the possibility of renewal for one to three years, which may be staggered, depending on an individual’s preferences, and the needs of the Council.

6. Renewals

Members approaching the end of their third year are asked by the Chair whether they would like to be considered for a further term. If they wish to continue, they are asked to provide thoughts on their membership so far, how they feel they have been able to contribute and why they would like to continue. They will also be asked for any general comments on how the Council operates.

Renewals are then discussed by the Chair and the member whose term is coming to an end. Together they will review the member’s contribution, capacity and appetite for continuation and consider how this meets the future needs of the Council. The Chair will report the key points of these discussions to the Membership Committee for consideration in making their recommendations on renewals to the Council for endorsement. The final decision rests with the Council, who can ask the Membership Committee to review its decision.

7. Induction process

The induction process for new Council members will be as follows:

  • New Council members are provided with information on how the Council works including:
  • the role and responsibilities of Council members – this includes a role description and code of conduct (see 9 and 10 below).
  • practical information about time commitment, expenses etc.
  • the structure and function of the Executive.
  • the Governing Board and funders.
  • the work programme and working methods of the Council.
  • how the Council fits into the policy landscape, nationally and internationally.
  • Before their first meeting, they will be invited to visit the NCOB offices to meet and talk to the Director and the rest of the executive staff. They will also speak / meet with the Chair of the Council. Any arrangements will take account of COVID restrictions.
  • To help new members settle in they will also be put in touch with another Council member to discuss their experiences and ask any questions.
  • The Chair of Council will contact new members after their first two meetings and then again after their first year to discuss how they are finding Council and if they have any concerns.
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