How my governor role allows me to be a conduit for the public

Alison Fisher profile picture

25 March 2019

Alison Fisher
Public Governor for Dorset and the rest of England and Wales at Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust (DHUFT)


Alison Fisher is a public governor for Dorset and the rest of England and Wales at Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust (DHUFT)  and the public governor representative on the Governor Advisory Committee (GAC).

What made you become a governor?

I relocated to Dorset following a career in the charity sector and was elected as a public governor with DHUFT for a three year term in September 2017. I have been deputy lead governor since April 2018.

My main motivation for being a governor is my huge respect for the NHS and a desire to be a part of its future development. I was looking for a challenging role where I could not only utilise but also develop my skills and experience at a strategic level within the NHS. I am passionate about co-production and see the governor role as the way to ensure that the public voice is sought, listened to and heard during times of challenge and opportunity in the NHS.

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

My last role was as chief executive of a regional Mind, the country’s largest and most influential mental health charity. DHUFT is a community and mental health trust with responsibility for all mental health services in Dorset so my experience is relevant. My belief in parity for mental and physical health in the NHS is a major driver as I bring my experience of service design and evaluation, integrated working and patient/public engagement to the statutory stage in the implementation of national priorities.

I am passionate about co-production and see the governor role as the way to ensure that the public voice is sought, listened to and heard during times of challenge and opportunity in the NHS.

   

What made you stand for election to the GAC?

I am a firm believer in externality - that is, ensuring that anything I do is based on good, rather than local or current practice. All too often we get either bogged down or smug in the belief that maintaining current practice is the right thing to do. Looking around at other areas and good practice is the way of measuring, checking and benchmarking these beliefs and maintaining a culture of learning, which applies to organisational governance as well as operations. As a member of the GAC I hope to be part of a resource which debates meaty issues and supports/encourages governors across the country to be the best they can, through information, shared good practice, education and networking opportunities.

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

I see my most important role as a conduit for the public to hear about, comment on and influence decisions affecting their local NHS trust. This includes being a critical friend to the board while challenging them in  order to give feedback to issues raised. My motivation in this area has always been a desire to listen to and hear the voice of those who may not be able to articulate their views through disadvantage or illness.

 

I enjoy being part of and developing a team with shared values as well as different skills and experiences

   

What do you enjoy most about being a governor?

Definitely being part of and developing a team with shared values as well as different skills and experiences -  working together for the best local healthcare. 

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

Integrated care has long been an aspiration and in Dorset we are working towards a ‘One Dorset healthcare’ system, looking at the experience of other areas of the country whose development is further advanced. Although integrated care systems (ICSs) have been raised to the fore because of dire circumstances in times of constraint and uncertainty, will the NHS and local authorities respond to calls to pool budgets and make the constitutional changes required to make this happen for the best interests of their populations? As a governor and as a member of the Governor Advisory Committee, I hope to be able to ensure that strong governance and leadership will be in place to weather any severe storms through foresight and pro-action.

Governor Advisory Committee (GAC) 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 Alison please email governors@nhsproviders.org

About the author

Alison Fisher profile picture

Alison Fisher
Public Governor for Dorset and the rest of England and Wales at Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust (DHUFT)

Alison Fisher is a public Governor for Dorset and the rest of England and Wales at Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust (DHUFT) and the public governor representative on the Governor Advisory Committee (GAC).

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