The motivation behind becoming a governor at Dorset HealthCare

Stephen Churchill profile picture

05 May 2023

Stephen Churchill
Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust

What motivated you become a governor?

I care passionately about improving local health services for the good of the community. Patients should rightly be the focus of all we do, it is vital that our services provide safe, high quality and compassionate care that supports and empowers people to make the most of their lives.

It is always been clear to me that NHS staff want to deliver the very best care they can for patients and their families. I stood for election because I wanted to make a positive contribution, engage with staff and service users, and represent their views to help influence the future development of our trust's services.

I am passionate about the health and wellbeing of our workforce, I believe it is vital that our staff and volunteers are supported and empowered to fulfil their commitment to delivering excellent care to the people of Dorset. I also wanted to represent the staff voice in discussions aimed at improving the population's health and preventing illness and disease.

How long have you been a governor?

I am in my sixth year.

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

I feel privileged to work in Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust's Complaints and Patient Advice and Liaison Service, as I get to hear first-hand about peoples' experiences of using NHS services. My role helps me actively promote the importance of providing a positive patient experience, and of learning, both from what we do well and when things go wrong, so that we can improve our services where we need to.

I am also a bank mental health support worker which gives me invaluable insight into the reality of life on the trusts' mental health wards from the perspectives of the staff and patients. I enjoy supporting ward colleagues, and, in some small way, helping patients to move forward with their recovery. I also live with depression and anxiety, and use services myself when I need support.

What made you stand for election to the Governor Advisory Committee?

I am proud to be a member of the Governor Advisory Committee. I stood for election as I wanted to use my experiences as a staff governor in a community health trust to help influence the role of the governor at a national level. I am able to give feedback and offer guidance on NHS Providers' excellent Governor Support programme as it is important this meets the needs of members. I also share feedback on governor issues from the perspective of a trust that is part of a new and developing integrated care system.

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

Governors represent their local communities, and I think there are two key aspects to the governor role. First, engaging with the members we represent and the general public, listening to them and fully understanding their views, and feeding these back to the Council of Governors (CoG).

Second, building positive relationships with non-executive directors (NEDs) and board members, and ensuring that the NEDs are reviewing, questioning and challenging the executive directors to make sure the trust is being managed effectively, and that our services are being run safely and meeting the needs of the communities we serve.

Do you have any examples of any impact your CoG has made?

Our council adopted three priorities when holding the board to account, these being (a) supporting people to live healthy lives; (b) the integration of health services; and (c) the wellbeing of the workforce.

I believe that through these priorities, our council has remained wholly focussed on making sure our trust makes a positive difference to the quality of care provided to local people. Reflecting upon the last few years, our trust has continued to make good progress in maintaining and improving the quality of the services delivered to local communities.

What do you enjoy most about being a governor?

I enjoy engaging with staff and ensuring that their voice and experiences are brought to the CoG and the board to help influence decision making. I also enjoy playing an active role in governor sub-committee meetings and observing board meetings and board sub-committee meetings.

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

Alongside the many challenges that we face in the NHS and social care, I believe we have lots of opportunities to develop and improve our services. Locally, our trust recently embarked on a journey towards working more collaboratively with one of the acute trusts in Dorset. I believe that by listening carefully to patients and staff, we have an exciting opportunity to realise the potential from working with many partners in different and innovative ways in order to improve population health for all communities across Dorset.

About the author

Stephen Churchill profile picture

Stephen Churchill

Stephen Churchill works for Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust, a large community and mental health trust. He is the trust's Complaints and PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service) Coordinator, and also a bank mental health support worker.

Stephen has been a staff governor for five years, with staff wellbeing a key priority. In his election address, Stephen observed that NHS Providers' vision and mission to support members to deliver high quality, sustainable NHS care for patients and service users is closely aligned to Dorset HealthCare's vision to be 'better every day'.

Stephen stood for the Governor Advisory Committee because he passionately believes the governor's role matters and he wanted to use his experience to help support governors of member trusts.

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