Ella Preston is a staff governor at Moorfields Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
I became the youngest governor on the council of governors 18 months ago at the age of 28 after winning a contested election in the City Road staff constituency. My role in the trust is the performance and information lead with the service improvement and sustainability team. I would describe myself as a business analyst who is enthused by working in a team focused on improving services to patients.
Why did you become a governor?
I had been in post nearly two years when I saw the role advertised on the trust intranet. I thought it looked like a good development opportunity so I discussed it with my boss who was very supportive.
What does the role involve at Moorfields?
As well as attending council meetings, the staff governors perform walkarounds of services on a regular basis, talking to staff about issues in their area. This means that staff know who I am now and will bring issues to me. At times I signpost staff to the bullying and harassment pathway, the freedom to speak up guardians or staff side reps. I also attend the joint staff consultative committee meetings to understand the issues being raised but I am clear on the difference between the roles of governors and union reps.
I am a member of one council sub-committee which is the remuneration committee. We also have other opportunities to meet directly with the chair and chief executive at additional meetings that are arranged for governors’ benefit regarding for example our proposed move to a new site.
What are the benefits of the role?
I have developed a much wider perspective on the strategic issues facing the trust. The presentations we have received at council meetings have broadened my knowledge. I am one of four staff governors and have enjoyed getting to know my fellow governors - we have elected two consultants, a staff nurse and myself.
I have developed a much wider perspective on the strategic issues facing the trust. The presentations we have received at council meetings have broadened my knowledge.
There is a very positive culture at Moorfields towards staff raising issues and three new staff networks have been established for LGBTQ+ staff, BAME staff and staff with disabilities. They are relatively new but have all been given an executive sponsor and a budget so the board is demonstrating its commitment.
What are the main challenges of the role?
Finding the time is the biggest challenge, particularly as I am undertaking a masters in health informatics in addition to my full time post. There is a lot of reading associated with the staff governor role. It’s fair to say I like to be busy!
What advice would you give to councils seeking to attract younger governors and recruit staff governors?
For younger governors it is important to think about when meetings are held to ensure they are at a time that will attract them into the role. My advice would be to emphasise that a representative role such as this enables a young person to give something back to the NHS but can also provide valuable personal development for them. The individual will also gain a lot of knowledge and understanding of the NHS, a service we all use.
My advice would be to emphasise that a representative role such as this enables a young person to give something back to the NHS but can also provide valuable personal development for them. The individual will also gain a lot of knowledge and understanding of the NHS, a service we all use.
For staff governors I think it is also about stressing and demonstrating the development opportunity. For example, discussing it within appraisals alongside training, shadowing and report writing.