surgeon hand wearing gloves passing scissors to another gloved hand


The British Society for Surgery of the Hand (BSSH) strives to improve the care of patients who suffer from hand injuries and hand disorders.  They achieve this through education and research and by promoting and directing the development of Hand Surgery; disseminating knowledge among members of the medical and allied health professions in the UK and through overseas projects including Sierra Leone, Sudan, Malawi, Myanmar, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia and Bangladesh.


BSSH has undergone a period of expansion, development and change resulting in it deciding to separate from the British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS).  This necessitated a new secretariat staff and office space, to procure and implement a new membership database and many other implications for the society all on the backdrop of dealing with the COVID pandemic.

In modernising and developing the charity for the future, BSSH needed a comprehensive review of its governance structures and functions, to consolidate these, and to ensure the correct balance and interaction between the various components of the society to secure its long-term success.


From initial discussions with Vanessa Longman, Senior Projects Coordinator for Cranfield Trust, it was clear that two projects were needed, one to cover Governance and a second linked project to review Financial and Business processes. 

David Brown, a Cranfield Trust volunteer and governance professional, was able to meet with the project team and begin the review.  David detailed the strengths and weaknesses of the constitution and governance in place and proposed changes and rationale for each. Ian McNab, Honorary Secretary for BSSH, explained:

“David’s counsel was instrumental in uncovering areas in the constitution requiring amendment that had not been updated since inception.”

Standing by BSSH for over a year, attending council meetings and advising them on the best process to implement the changes, David was impressed by the commitment of the surgeons to the Society, despite their heavy workloads. 


Having completed the project, trustees are now referring to the charitable objects and assessing how activities align with them.  Trustees are more confident in governance processes, how to demonstrate that they are working in practice and, should the worst happen and the society were to have to wind-up, they are prepared for this and other disaster and risk plans. Robin Horton, Lay Trustee, commented:

“We have been brought up to date through this project - the charitable objects now more closely reflect the organisations aims and express public benefit more clearly.  Internally, there is greater transparency in the election and voting processes and, amongst other things, we have delegated authority as part of making a new secretariat enabling this role to work more independently of council but with appropriate oversight.”

Considering the impact on beneficiaries and future members of the Society, Robin describes the impact as two-fold: 

“Firstly, they will bring greater patient involvement and secondly there is now a platform for trainee surgeons which will create a pipeline for the future.  This is an incredible legacy!”

Ian is extremely grateful to David and the Cranfield Trust for the support BSSH has received:

“Cranfield Trust are providing an amazing service which cannot be underestimated! The volunteer who was selected was an excellent match for our project which we could not have accessed in the market. David brought credibility having expertise on governance from other charities and we are extremely grateful to him.”

BSSH and the Cranfield Trust are now embarking on the second project to review financial and business processes ahead of their next strategic planning period starting January 2023.

Registered Charity No: 800072 | Scottish Charity No: SCO40299 | Company No: 2290789 | Telephone No: 01794 830338
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