What it means to be a Governor
Our Governors are writing a short blog about being an SFH Governor. We hope this gives you an interesting insight into life at Sherwood Forest Hospitals.
We’ll continue to add them to this page as they are produced.
Jane Stubbings - Ashfield Public Governor
Why a Governor?
Almost 30 years ago, I was a patient in King’s Mill Hospital for a number of weeks with a pulmonary embolism. I was confined to a ward for most of that time, but as my condition began to improve I realised how very busy the staff were and wondered if a lay person like me could do anything to help them. I noticed many ways that I could help. I had a fair bit of free time having retired early from paid work, so I started by joining the Patient Reference Group and enjoyed it so much that later I joined the 3 C’s Cancer Group.
I made so many friends along the way and it really made my retirement useful to see how much good was achieved gaining patients views about the hospital. I also became involved with other voluntary places in order to learn more about how hospitals are run. When the opportunity to be a Governor came up, I jumped at the opportunity. I read all the information on-line, liked what I read and after careful thought and a boost from my Husband I made an application to be a Public Governor for Ashfield.
All hospital members are allowed to vote and I was duly elected. I knew from my first meeting that I was going to enjoy it, although I had no medical qualifications whatsoever and I was a little worried about that. However, I needn’t have worried because now I’ve served my first year I know that the only qualification required was a fair bit of common sense!
I have learnt so much in this first year about the way a hospital is run and even though I was new, my views are listened to the same as those that have served three year terms.
I love talking to the patients and their families in our ‘Meet Your Governor’ sessions once a month. I hear so many praiseworthy things from them and of course the odd grumble. I make notes and these are read by senior colleagues who are able to action things.
We have 4 Council of Governors meetings a year, a few workshops and a few development sessions which are so helpful. There is a small time commitment but it is not onerous in any way and I really enjoy the meetings. I have learnt a lot about what goes on behind the scenes too, which has improved my own knowledge. We have great leadership from our CEO (Richard Mitchell) and Chairman (John MacDonald) and they work with the Governors and hear our views. They are very approachable and have all the staff and patients at heart.
One very important task for Governors is to hold Non-executive board members to account. Another is to gain the views of the public on their experiences when using hospital services. Our Trust, covers 3 hospital sites; King’s Mill Hospital, Newark Hospital and Mansfield Community Hospital and our Executives and Board are responsible for all 3.
I know for sure that I put my spare time to good use now and my dearest wish is to take our Hospitals to Outstanding in the CQC ratings. Currently we are rated ‘Good’ for most things and ‘Outstanding’ for Care. I know from recent time, as an inpatient myself that the care is outstanding and my husband has also received outstanding care when he was treated for cancer. I now want to help the trust to be rated as ‘Outstanding’ in all areas and I can help influence things and help out as a Public Governor.
If you are reading this and think that you would like to do what I do as a Governor, then don’t hesitate to put yourself up for election and help us and our wonderful hospitals to reach that ‘Outstanding’ rating. You only need common sense, previous experience is not required.”
Sue Holmes - Ashfield Public Governor
Why did I become a Governor?
My background is in teaching and I had no professional connection to the NHS – however sepsis in 2002 and two total knee replacements in 2010 and 2013 gave me plenty of experience as a patient. My care and treatment were exemplary. My parents both died at the age of 88 in King’s Mill Hospital after long term illnesses in 2010 and 2011 and the staff showed great compassion and kindness.
This made me want to contribute and I was elected one of the Public Governors for Ashfield four years ago. I was elected for a three-year term and was fortunate enough to be elected for a second term of three years.
Where do Governors come from?
There are publicly elected governors where SFH members can apply to stand and other SFH members decide who to vote for.
There are four Governors for Mansfield, four for Ashfield; four for Newark and Sherwood; two for Derbyshire and one for the rest of the East Midlands.
Staff Governors are elected by SFH staff and volunteer governors are elected by SFH volunteers.
There are also appointed Governors from key local groups such as local authorities, colleges etc.
What do I need to become a Governor?
Mainly good common sense!
What do Governors do?
I find being a Governor incredibly interesting. The main responsibilities are:
- to hold the Non-Executive Directors to account (which we do by observing them in committees)
- and to represent members of the Trust and the public (which we do by seeking their views and relaying them to the Board of Directors).
Those are our statutory duties but there are other ways to be involved:
- Taking part in the Patient Lead Audit of Cleanliness and Environment (PLACE) audit –– a thorough inspection of most areas of our three hospitals annually;
- 15 steps visits. These are inspections carried out by a senior nurse/matron, a member of the Executive Team and a Governor, looking for first impressions. I have visited many wards, the Accident and Emergency department, Maternity and have been fascinated by the ‘behind scenes’ working of King’s Mill Hospital.
- Meet your Governor desks. Once a month each Governor volunteers for two hours to meet with patients and visitors. This can be done at any time of the day, weekdays or weekends. This is very enjoyable and we do hear so many good things about our hospitals. However, inevitably there are some complaints and although we cannot solve them, we do know the staff who can and we can steer patients in the right direction.
The time commitment
There is usually around one meeting a month, usually starting at 5.30pm which could include the Council of Governors meeting, workshops and training, Membership and Engagement Group and/or other Governor Forums.
Other activities take place during working hours. They are interesting and fulfilling but not mandatory.
What have I offered?
I have taken part in all of the above duties and activities and have contributed a ‘fresh pair of eyes’ from the patient/public perspective. I enjoy talking to people and am able to pass on compliments and concerns.
Three years ago, I was elected Lead Governor and this has involved me in a great many more activities.
What do I get out of being a Governor?
I have found it very rewarding – feeling that I have played a part in ensuring that all patients receive the same excellent care and treatment that I have.
I have also enjoyed being part of a Trust that has moved from being in Special Measures four years ago to one which is good overall and outstanding for care and striving to be outstanding overall – this can only be good for patient care.