LETTER: About being a trust governor

Now is a very interesting time to be a trust governor for Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Worthing Hospital, St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester and Southlands Hospital in Shoreham, as well as the West Sussex Sexual Health Service.

Most trust governors are elected by public members of the trust, of whom there are more than 8,000. Anyone who lives in the hospitals’ catchment area can become a member. It’s free to join and you’ll be kept informed, invited to special events and can also benefit from the NHS Discounts Scheme.

For more information please visit www.westernsussexhospitals.nhs.uk/Members.

National Volunteers Week (June 1 to 7) is a perfect time to also recognise the voluntary contribution trust governors make towards improving your hospital services.

My fellow governors and I have two main responsibilities – one is holding the trust to account for the quality of care it provides, and the other is representing the views of patients and the public to the trust board.

We are very proud that Western Sussex Hospitals is one of only five acute trusts in the country to be rated Outstanding by the Care Quality Commission and we are committed to ensuring the trust continues to excel and provide the highest quality of care for people living locally.

Trust governors can be involved with and contribute to much of what goes on in the hospitals. We have regular meetings with the chairman and the chief executive where we discuss the latest developments, ask questions and pass on the views of members and the public.

In addition, we meet with the non-executive directors through whom we hold the trust to account by seeking assurances the hospitals are being effectively managed and operated efficiently.

For most governors though, it is talking to patients and the public about their experiences and expectations that is most rewarding.

At quarterly public meetings of the Trust Board and Council of Governors, members of the public can also express their views or concerns directly. Both events have time reserved for public questions, which are answered then and there by the executive leadership team. Details of the meetings, including the agenda and papers, are available of the trust website www.westernsussexhospitals.nhs.uk under the Your Trust section. The next Council of Governors’ meeting is in the Medical Education Centre at St Richard’s Hospital from 9.30am on Tuesday, June 13, and we welcome the attendance of members of the public interested in finding out more or wishing to have a question answered.