Educational governance in the
NHS: a literature review
NHS Education for Scotland, Edinburgh, UK
Purpose – This paper aims to survey the literature relating to educational governance’s application
to healthcare. Its purpose is to establish the extent to which this type of governance is recognised by
healthcare staff, and to develop an understanding of how it is deﬁned and used.
Design/methodology/approach – The starting point for the literature review was an academic
database search supplemented by a Google Scholar search. The results were sifted using evidence
strength criteria and ﬁltered for relevance using secondary keywords.
Findings – The educational governance in healthcare literature search indicates that this is a relatively
under-researched area. There are few attempts to deﬁne educational governance, although several
authors note similarities with clinical governance. Authors cite educational governance as an important
component of integrated approaches to healthcare governance, noting inter-dependent relationships
between areas such as clinical governance, organisational development and risk management.
Research limitation/implications – Given the diverse academic and grey literature used for the
review, it was difﬁcult to apply conventional evidence-strength scales, especially because most articles
cited in the text are based on expert opinion rather than systematic review.
Practical implications – The review highlights educational governance’s value to healthcare
organisations and provides references for organisational staff contemplating developing this area.
Originality/value – The paper is the ﬁrst known attempt to survey the literature relating to
National Health Service educational governance.
Keywords Education, Health services, Governance, Quality assurance, National Health Service,
Paper type Literature review
The NHS Education for Scotland (NES) was established in 2002 as a Special Health
Board supporting Scottish NHS Boards and Primary Care Organisations through
workforce development of various types. Setting up NES, the Scottish Executive
indicated that its part remit was to “... demonstrate leadership of the educational
governance agenda in NHS Scotland” (Scottish Executive Health Department, 2001,
p. 12). The Scottish Executive thus equated educational with other forms of health
service governance, including clinical and staff governance.
In its ﬁrst six years, NES addressed its remit in a range of uni- and
multi-professional contexts by designing, providing, commissioning and quality
assuring diverse educational solutions. Although it has not thus far supported NHS
Boards in their educational governance activities at a strategic level, there are
important exceptions including postgraduate medical education quality
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
The author would like to thank Dr Gianluca Mattioli for helping him obtain most material used
in this review and for his all-round support. The author also thanks Professor Alice Belcher for
her valued comments on earlier drafts.
Received 25 March 2009
Revised 12 August 2009
Accepted 26 December 2009
International Journal of Health Care
Vol. 23 No. 8, 2010
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited