What does a governor do?

by Susan Maxwell (Patient Governor)—This is a question I am often asked around the hospital, by both patients and staff, and I could easily reel off a list and leave it at that, except that we do a lot more than that list would suggest. Here’s the list...

Susan-Maxwell2.jpgSusan Maxwell, Patient Governor

This is a question I am often asked around the hospital, by both patients and staff, and I could easily reel off a list and leave it at that, except that we do a lot more than that list would suggest. Here’s the list...

The role of the Council of Governors is to hold the Board to account and to ensure the Trust conducts itself in a way that is consistent with the needs of the communities it serves. Other important statutory duties include:

  • Representing the views of their constituency ie patients and the local community, staff and stakeholder organisations including CCGs and local authorities
  • Holding the Non-Executive Directors collectively and individually to account
  • Receiving the Annual Report and Annual Accounts
  • Providing views on the Trust’s forward plans each financial year
  • Appointing the Trust’s external auditors
  • Approving significant transactions
  • Requesting that Monitor convene a panel to which a governor may refer a question as to whether the Trust has failed or is failing to act in accordance with its constitution
  • Requiring a Director of the Board to attend a meeting for the purposes of obtaining information about the performance of the Trust
  • Individual Governors may also take part in committees/working groups to contribute an independent view to Trust affairs

It is that last bullet point that makes being a governor even more interesting and extremely rewarding. For instance, I attend a meeting which takes a close look at the quality of care within the Trust.

Among the items, we see the list of complaints and how they are progressed, we get updates on the patient experience in various departments, one of which is the waiting times in A&E—and you will be pleased to hear that Chelsea and Westminster enjoys an excellent percentage attainment record.

Some governors do ward rounds. Not all patients feel sufficiently empowered to ask questions of their consultants but, from my experience of chatting to patients, I have learned that the majority are happy with the way they are included in discussions about their treatment, confirming that they get to ask questions.

They think the wards are cleaned well and often, and many declare that Chelsea and Westminster Hospital is wonderful. This, of course, is music to my ears but it would be wrong for us governors to get complacent and believe that this is the perception of all patients.

By way of engagement with members, we do provide a chance to ‘Meet a Governor’ for one hour practically every week in the Trust. The Council of Governors funds Medicine for Members seminars and annual events including Christmas at Chelsea and Westminster and Open Day. We recruit new members at these events and at the last Open Day we funded a prize draw for those who signed up on the day. Winners were Cynthia Ake (£25 M&S Voucher), Anne Whalen (£15 M&S Voucher) and Lili Sternberg (£10 M&S Voucher).

We, your governors, are involved and we care, so please feel free to chat to us any time about what we do. We, in turn, would love to hear from you with your ideas and suggestions about how our hospital could be improved.

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