How being a governor means I can act as a strong critical friend

John Jones profile picture

10 June 2019

John Jones
Governor
Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust


John Jones is a governor at Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust. He is the mental health services representative on the Governor Advisory Committee (GAC).

What made you become a governor?

 

I first became a governor in 2010 following my experience of 20 years sitting as a magistrate where a significant number of those appearing in court clearly had mental health problems, and the court was having difficulty in understanding how to deal with these cases and tended to adjourn for psychiatric reports which in themselves were often of little use. After I was elected a public governor, I succeeded in arranging a direct link for all the courts in the county to have access to a mental health professional, in the court, within an hour.

How long have you been a governor?

 

I have been a governor since 2010 and lead governor since 2013. Since then the trust has merged with another and I have been lead governor for the enlarged trust ever since. With the encouragement of NHS Providers, I set up a regional network of lead governors in the East of England about three years ago and this meets every three months to discuss matters of mutual interest and provides a forum for discussing problems and sharing solutions.

 

I get most satisfaction from making suggestions for improvement and these being accepted and implemented. That makes a real difference to the experiences of the patient, and it is satisfying to look back at that and say to yourself, “I did that”.

John Jones    Governor

 

What career/jobs/life experiences have you had that are relevant to your governor role?

 

 

I have set up and run a number of companies in my working career, and then decided that it was about time I put something back into the community, so I joined the bench of magistrates and also became involved in local government standards. I currently act as an independent person to six local authorities, and get consulted when there is an allegation of a breach of the code of conduct by councillors. Additionally, I act as an independent member on police misconduct panels for six police forces in the East of England. I feel that this experience provides a wider non-NHS when looking at the problems which exist, particularly in the public sector.

What made you stand for election to the GAC?

 

As a lead governor for a major mental and community health foundation trust I thought it was important that the voice of mental and community health was not drowned out by the well-publicised problems in the acute sector. In particular, that governance in a mental health trust is different to that in an acute trust, with its wide geographic spread (we have around 200 sites across 100 miles), with the potential for staff to feel isolated from the centre, and patients rarely seeing senior management.

 

I thought it was important that the voice of mental and community health was not drowned out by the well-publicised problems in the acute sector.

John Jones    Governor

 

What do you think is the most important role a governor plays?

 

Governors hold the directors to account for their decisions and provide a conduit between the board and the patient/carer. We are in a position to act as a strong ‘critical’ friend as we are not dependent on the organisation for our income.

Governors provide a conduit between the board and the patient/carer. We are in a position to act as a strong ‘critical’ friend as we are not dependent on the organisation for our income.

John Jones    Governor

 

What do you enjoy most about being a governor?

I get most satisfaction from making suggestions for improvement and these being accepted and implemented. That makes a real difference to the experiences of the patient, and it is satisfying to look back at that and say to yourself, “I did that”.

What changes in healthcare that you see locally or nationally excite you?

There has been a genuine trend over the past few years to consulting the patient, rather than the previous ‘doctor knows best’ attitude. This involvement is developing and provides an opportunity for governors to assess how successful it has been and to help iron out any difficulties or obstructions which may occur.


Governor Advisory Committee members provide oversight and feedback on our work and areas that require debate and action. They help to shape the governor services we provide to our members such as our GovernWell training programme, annual Governor focus conference, bespoke training and guidance resources.

If you would like to contact John please email governors@nhsproviders.org

About the author

John Jones profile picture

John Jones
Governor

John Jones is a governor at Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust. He is the mental health services representative on the Governor Advisory Committee.

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