Why I decided to become a governor

Howard Tidman profile picture

19 January 2022

Howard Tidman
Staff Governor
Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

In this Q&A blog, Howard Tidman discusses what motivated him to become a staff governor at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, his journey and experiences in the role and his inspiration to putting himself forward as a member of NHS Providers' governor advisory committee.

What motivated you to become a governor?

I was motivated to become a governor to help the trust provide better care for those that use the service and their carers along with providing better support to staff.

How long have you been a governor?

I have been a governor for seven years and lead governor for the past three years. It is unusual to have a lead governor who is a member of staff.

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

Working for Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust as a registered mental health nurse, I have spent most of my career working in acute nursing. This has taught me to listen with inquisitiveness which I believe helps me in my role as a governor. I often must unpack very complicated problems that my service users face and its often not the presenting problem that is causing much of the distress. I believe that this ability to looking at problems from many different angles helps me as a governor to see what problems the trust faces.

What made you stand for election to the governor advisory committee?

I have admired the work NHS Providers does for many years especially their ability to unpick the issues facing the NHS in to bite size easy to understand pieces. That and the transformation of the NHS with the introduction of integrated care systems (ICS) has for me highlighted the need for the voices of governors to be heard at a national level. This inspired me to put myself forward as a member of the governor advisory committee. I am also impressed that NHS Providers is being listened to by Government expressing the voice of the Governors and hence the public.

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

For me I believe the most important role the governor has is to represent their members interest, sometimes this can be at odds with what the trust perceives as its members interests and hence the governors can act as a critical friend.

Do you have any examples of any impact your council of governors has made?

Our council of governors has had a significant impact on the trust. We have been instrumental in significant investment in staff wellbeing along with mandatory training for staff on autism. However our most significant impact is our annual members events for our members and third sector. We listen to what our members priorities are, and this forms the council of governors' priorities for the year which also feeds into the trust's priorities. I am most impressed that the trust has worked with the council throughout the pandemic to ensure good governance as this is an important factor in the delivery of effective services during these past two turbulent rapidly changing two years.

What do you enjoy most about being a governor?

I enjoy being a governor because it enables me to influence the direction of the trust in the direction that members tell us it should be heading. It also enables me to have influence outside the wider scope of the trust allowing me a voice in the wider ICS and healthcare sector. This is where I hope I have brought about positive change.

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

A single positive benefit of the pandemic has been a focus on health inequalities. This excites me as I am passionate to reduce these inequalities and I am pleased that nationally and locally there is a mood to tackle this. A key challenge will be how we are going to achieve this in practice. That said it is important this has risen up the agenda.

About the author

Howard Tidman profile picture

Howard Tidman
Staff Governor

Howard Tidman works for Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) as a registered mental health nurse, and has spent much of his career working in acute mental health settings. He is a staff governor and lead governor on council of governors at NSFT. He is also senior carers lead and a trustee of three local charities.

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