How my role lets me contribute to the spirit of the NHS

Peter Abell profile picture

13 March 2019

Peter Abell
Chair of the Governor Advisory Committee; and public governor at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.


Peter Abell is chair and the acute services representative of the Governor Advisory Committee (GAC).

What made you become a governor?

I stood for election as a governor having been asked to do so by people campaigning to keep the children’s ward open for overnight admissions at our local hospital. My initial view was that the hospital was making economies and that the people of Bassetlaw, for which I am a public governor, needed a voice to ensure fair play. On becoming a governor, I rapidly learned that the real issue was a national shortage of paediatric nurses and medics preventing the trust from delivering safe care.

How long have you been a governor?

I became a governor in June 2017 which now seems quite a long time ago having been so fully engaged in the role.

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

My background is teaching in further education and as a senior manager but I’m now retired. I am a graduate economist with further qualifications in education and in management studies. I have been an active member of the Labour Party for many years and served in a range of roles including constituency chair, secretary, agent to the MP, and county councillor so I do have experience relevant to public life and doing its business. What I didn’t have was any real engagement with or knowledge of the world of hospitals and the NHS. From the beginning my experience as a governor has been incredibly positive. Colleagues were friendly and welcoming and the hospital administration informed, efficient and professional. Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust values its governors and their contribution and encourages us in our role.

From the beginning my experience as a governor has been incredibly positive. Colleagues were friendly and welcoming and the hospital administration informed, efficient and professional.

Peter Abell    Chair of the Governor Advisory Committee; and public governor at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

What made you stand for election to the GAC?

I stood for the GAC because the governor’s role matters and I want to help support it on a national platform. I decided to stand for the chair of the committee rather on the basis of ‘putting your money where your mouth is’ in the task of promoting such a national voice.

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

Thanks to the training from NHS Providers, I am clear about the important role of governors - meeting in public, receiving relevant reports and holding non-executive directors to account. However, on a regular basis the key role of the governor is giving the trust an informed critical friend who supports and tells the truth to decision-makers as necessary.

Thanks to the training from NHS Providers, I am clear about the important role of governors - meeting in public, receiving relevant reports and holding non-executive directors to account. However, on a regular basis the key role of the governor is giving the trust an informed critical friend who supports and tells the truth to decision-makers as necessary.

Peter Abell    Chair of the Governor Advisory Committee; and public governor at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

What do you enjoy most about being a governor?

In our trust governors have a wide range of briefings which keep us up to date about the trust and the wider service. Also, we visit wards talking to patients and staff. We join trust teams doing inspections of the quality of provision and the state of buildings. In this way I have gained a real engagement with the service. What is always present is the affection of patients for our hospitals and the enthusiasm of the staff – a real NHS spirit. I get most enjoyment as a governor by, in some small way, contributing into this invigorating environment.

What is always present is the affection of patients for our hospitals and the enthusiasm of the staff – a real NHS spirit.

Peter Abell    Chair of the Governor Advisory Committee; and public governor at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

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

Nationally it’s the growing focus on health rather than treatment – a national health service not a national treatment service. Locally, it’s the development of the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw integrated care system (ICS) with its ambition to improve health outcomes across all its communities. The focus of ICSs is collaboration and thankfully competition is on the back burner if not gone altogether from the NHS.

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 Peter please email governors@nhsproviders.org

About the author

Peter Abell profile picture

Peter Abell
Chair of the Governor Advisory Committee; and public governor at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Article tags:

We use cookies to ensure you have the best possible experience on our website. By continuing we’ll assume that you are happy to receive them. Read our updated privacy and cookie policy. Close