Being a Hospital Governor

I was recently interviewed for the UCLH Trust’s quarterly newsletter to members and I thought people might be interested so here’s a copy of the interview, which you can also read in the newsletter itself here.

Fiona McKenzie was a newly elected governor in September 2010. Joan Bell, governor and UCLH news editor, talks to her on her achievements.

Congratulations on being our youngest elected governor!  What made you decide to stand for governor?

My experience of UCLH has been, on the whole, a great one. However, there have been instances with plenty of room for improvement. I stood, like so many others, because I wanted to help work towards creating a better patient experience. With NHS reform and budget cuts, billed by many as the greatest challenge for the NHS since it’s inception, this seemed like an excellent time to stand as I love a challenge. Finally, it looked possible, as a role, to fit around my full-time employment and I wanted to contribute and be part of effecting change.

How long have a been a member of the Trust?

I joined the Trust in November 2009 as it was becoming clear I was going to have a fairly lengthy relationship with UCLH at that point and it made sense to get a better idea of the bigger picture. I remember joking with friends that I had joined the hospital’s “loyalty programme”, having received a membership form along with my nth appointment letter.

You’ve been governor for just a few months and have already got involved in many areas of where you can make improvements for patients.  Tell me what you’ve done so far.

I am liaising with clinicians and external partners on ensuring patients with learning disabilities, one of the vulnerable groups of patients, are provided with the same high standard of care as others. I am working with Ros Waring, in the Membership Office, to recruit and engage more members. I have joined a committee which deals with quality and strategic priorities alongside patient safety and a group of Governors who focus on improving the full patient experience. I am taking part in a hospital walkabout looking particularly at non-clinical practical issues including cleanliness, food and facilities. Later this year, I will be helping with the ‘environment’ and ‘prevention & management of pain’ audits of Nursing and Midwifery practice, which help promote sharing of best practice across the Trust.

What do you find most satisfying in being a governor?

I look at what some of the long-standing members of the Governing Body have achieved and it’s tremendously exciting to see how much change they have effected. The most satisfying thing is being able to be part of that change now and in the future.

What influence do you feel young people would have in being governor at the Trust and would you encourage other younger members to stand?”

I would love to see more younger people standing in the Governing Body elections this year. It provides an excellent opportunity to play a part in shaping a community – it’s challenging, exciting and ever-changing and there is plenty of room for being actively involved in the work. While I have taken on quite a few positions, you can make the role suit and fit with your interests and time commitments. Many of the meetings happen outside 9-5, so it can fit around work commitments. Alongside this, many employers have specific HR policies providing extra leave for Governor responsibilities as part of their corporate social responsibility programmes. For me, the experience will help my career and, very selfishly, it’s a brilliant role to put on my CV. I think more representation from younger people would contribute a fresh perspective to the Governing Body and could also provide those younger people with skills and experience useful later on in life.

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