News and Notices

A day in the life of a... DCHS governor

Julian Miller joined us in 2016 as a new public governor for Bolsover, Chesterfield and North East Derbyshire and has really hit the ground running.

So how does Julian do it? Isn’t being a governor very time consuming? He will tell you in his own words.

“The work of a governor is really important, but it may not actually be as time consuming as you think…..

Site visits and governor groups

This particular day starts early as I have a site visit arranged at one of the local community hospitals in my constituency and a meeting at 09.30. The aim of the visit is to meet with some of the staff, find out what they do and to let them know that their thoughts are important and will be listened to. It’s not the governor role to directly instigate change, but we need to understand what is happening “on the coal face” to allow us to question the directors, both executive and non-executive, on what their thought processes are when making decisions and be assured that all facts are considered before arriving at a decision.

After a couple of hours of walking around and talking to both staff and patients (and being told, quite correctly, to wash my hands properly, not just gesturing them towards the water!), I have to move on to my 09.30 meeting.

Governors not only sit on the council, but also on numerous smaller groups that have specific responsibility for certain areas. The group I belong to is the engagement group and we are tasked with reviewing the way that messages and information is given both to staff and to the public.

You may have heard of the story of the First World War general on the frontline who sent a message back by a series of runners saying “send reinforcements, we’re going to advance.” By the time the message gets back to HQ it’s been changed to “send three and fourpence, we’re going to a dance.” This just shows how important it is that the message, whatever it is, stays the same regardless of who hears it.

Training and Council of Governors

I’m now ready for some governor training. This time is spent giving governors a chance to hear some of the stories behind the headlines. It is very important that we have a chance to talk amongst ourselves about the work that DCHS does.

After lunch we have the full Council of Governors meeting. This is open to the public to watch and listen to. I would strongly recommend anyone who is interested in what we are doing to provide community health services to attend.

One very interesting item on the agenda is the patient’s story. I find these to be particularly effective in showing how one small action taken, most often by a diligent member of staff, can have a massive effect on the patient and their family’s quality of life and health. I really enjoy this item. You can read about Dick on page 3. Don’t believe, however, that we don’t hear about when things go wrong, because we do and we question how it happened, but perhaps more importantly, what’s being done to make sure we learn from this and we get it right next time.

We also get a chance to ask questions directly to the chief executive, Tracy Allen, and Prem Singh, the chair, about the activities of the trust now and its plans for the future.

All in all, my governor day has lasted about 12 hours. Once I get home I will look at and answer a few emails, write this article for Our Community and read agendas and reports.

It would be onerous if it was every day, one day a week or even one day a month, but it’s not. This equates to one day every two months. If there is anyone else out there that can give 12 to 16 hours over two months, then I would recommend that you become a governor. Such a long day is rare for governors and you don’t have to cover all of your duties in one day. You can split the time over one to two months if that suits you.

Now for my pre-dinner glass of wine!”