Anne Carlile is the patient/carer/service user representative on the Governor Advisory Committee (GAC). She is a carer governor at the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust and was elected for a three year term in April 2016. The trust is a mental health and disabilities organisation and was rated as outstanding by Care Quality Commission in 2016 and again in 2018.
What made you become a governor?
My background before retiring six years ago was working in family support in the mental health, drug and alcohol field with health professionals in the NHS, the community and in HMP Prisons. I am also a carer and recognise the value of the contribution that unpaid carers provide, so when a carer-governor role became vacant at Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, I decided to apply.
I enjoy being a governor because I support the trust’s strategic ambitions, in particular our ambition to work with people, communities and partners to promote prevention, early intervention and resilience.
Owing to the stress of providing support, many carers face their own practical and emotional problems. All agencies should recognise the value and contribution that unpaid carers provide. As a governor I am aware that the carer’s role in supporting someone with a mental or other health issue can be very variable and one approach to support doesn’t fit all. As a governor I wanted to be instrumental in enabling groups to work together, to develop processes in order to provide a better and more effective and efficient service for the whole spectrum of carers of individuals specifically those with mental health issues.
What career/jobs/life experiences have you had that are relevant to your governor role?
I am currently a carer who has worked with other carers and carer organisations for the last 20 years. Previously I developed and managed a successful city wide nationally recognised charity which supports carers of drug and alcohol users. The charity received the prestigious Queen’s Jubilee award in 2002. I worked for a charity in Northumberland and was seconded to HMPS Durham and Northumberland as a family intervention officer.
I am a member of Priory Medical Group, North Tyneside patient forum and represent patients on North Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group patient forum. We have a sub-group membership which I sit on for mental health, self-care communications group and the shared decision making group (MAGIC programme, Newcastle University). I am also a member of the Crown Prosecution Service Community and Involvement Panel. I am a patient representative on North Tyneside Integrated Mental Health Board and also attend user and carer groups across the borough. As a qualified trainer I have produced and delivered many training programmes and have spoken at national conferences and chaired numerous working groups in all my roles.
What made you stand for election to the governor advisory committee?
I think that it is crucial to approach health problems, particularly complicated mental health issues, holistically. That is, there must be a strategy developed and agreed by all agencies involved in the processes and working relationships should be developed transparently. If the processes involving mental health care are to be effective and efficient, the culture must change. To this end management including frontline staff need to work together to shift the paradigm. This change can only be initiated, coordinated and monitored by a body with vision and overall responsibility for the whole process. Membership of the governor advisory committee (GAC) will allow the sharing of my experience with others and hopefully a contribution to the developmental process.
I think that it is crucial to approach health problems, particularly complicated mental health issues, holistically.
What do you think is the most important role a governor plays?
The most important role of governors is to work as a team in order to be instrumental in enabling governors and all staff to work together to develop processes, with all stakeholders, to promote and improve efficient services for the whole spectrum of individuals with mental health and disability issues. I believe that the same principles should apply to the GAC.
What do you enjoy most about being a governor?
Our council of governors is made up of service users, carers, staff and others and we hold the Board and its decisions to account. We have taken into account national and local strategies that are relevant to people using our services. I enjoy being a governor because I support the trust’s strategic ambitions, in particular our ambition to work with people, communities and partners to promote prevention, early intervention and resilience.
What changes in healthcare that you see locally or nationally excite you?
The fact that mental health issues are receiving a lot of publicity at this time and significant statistics are being produced regarding the mental wellbeing of children, people in the work place, old people, prisoners and many people in the public eye are discussing this including the royal family.
This recognition of the problem enthuses me but I will of course only be excited if we are allowed the resources to develop our nationally outstanding health service to focus equally on mental health issues.
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 Anne please email her on Governors@nhsproviders.org.