What is it like to be a QVH Governor?

Janet Hall, a QVH Governor. She is a white woman with ashy blonde shoulder-length hair and a fringe, wearing a light brown jumper.

Janet Hall has been a Governor at Queen Victoria Hospital (QVH) since 2023. Here she explains more about the role and why you should think about becoming a Governor too.

My background
I live locally and worked for the local NHS for 20 years before retiring in 2012.  During the last ten years of my employment I set up and managed the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) and Public Engagement Service at Surrey and Sussex Healthcare Trust (SASH).  PALS was a new service which gave patients and members of the public a way to voice their concerns and get a quick response and resolution to their issues. After retiring I worked as an elected Public Governor at SASH for eight years and, in June 2023, was elected as a Public Governor at QVH and became Deputy Lead Governor in November 2023.

What inspired me to become a Governor?
After retiring I wanted to continue to contribute in some way to the NHS as I am passionate about making things better for patients and their communities. In my role as Governor, I felt I could use my previous experience and skills to do this and help QVH to provide the best possible service for the communities it serves.

What I have enjoyed most or found rewarding in the role?
QVH is a small specialist hospital with worldwide acclaim and lots of interesting history, whilst still being firmly embedded in its supportive local community. It is very different from my previous role working in a large acute hospital and has proved to be a very interesting place to undertake a governor role.

I enjoy working with my fellow governors, who are from all walks of life, and working with the QVH management team. The governors have informal social meetings as well as formal ones, which give us the opportunity to get to know one another and work more effectively as a team.

I am also looking forward to having more opportunities to work with members of local communities to get their feedback and represent their views to help improve services, which is a key role for governors.

What do you see as your greatest successes?
Although I have only been a Governor for a short time, I have already taken on the role of Deputy Lead Governor, which has been extremely interesting and made me realise there is a lot to learn!  The role has involved regular meetings with my Lead Governor and the Chair of the QVH Board. They provide an update on what is happening in the hospital and allow us to raise questions and concerns from governors.

There are also visits to wards and departments. These are a good way of familiarising me with the hospital and its services and provide an opportunity for me to talk with patients, their families and staff.

I sit on the Governor Steering Committee, the Appointments Committee and Governor Working Group for member and public engagement.  I attend the Governor Working group for the Quality and Safety Board sub-committee. The Governor Working Group for member and public engagement provides an opportunity for governors to work with our patients and communities to seek out their views and then represent them to the QVH management. We are looking forward to visiting local groups to update and seek views from them on the development of the QVH strategy and what QVH means to them. The working groups aligned to Board sub-committees give us the opportunity to question the Non Executive Directors (NEDs) about their work and are proving very useful in our role of holding them to account.

Why would I recommend becoming a governor?
If you have some time to give, an interest in supporting your local hospital and are keen to get involved in your community then you should consider becoming a governor. It will give you a very interesting and rewarding opportunity to represent patients and your community, learn a lot about your hospital and, hopefully, make a difference.

What would you tell members about QVH?
I have found the hospital to be a small, welcoming trust providing specialist care from dedicated, caring and friendly staff. It provides an essential local, regional and national service for reconstructive surgery, burns care and rehabilitation services. It also provides many other services for the local population including a minor injuries unit, therapies and sleep.

How do you describe being a governor in three words?
Worthwhile, Rewarding, Interesting