NHS: What is the role of the Council of Governors in a Foundation Trust?

On 1 June, I’ll take up the office of one of two Public Governors for the Forest of Dean on Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust. One of my core responsibilities to represent the interests of the people within my constituency to the Board of Directors, through contributions at the Council of Governors. To do this, it helps for you to be informed about the Trust and what it does, as well as the responsibilities of both the Council of Governors, and myself as an individual Governor.

What is the Council of Governors?

The Council of Governors of Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust includes public, staff, Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Local Authority representatives. The main roles of the Council of Governors as set out by the Government are to represent the interests of the people within their constituency or partner organisation, report feedback on our services and, wherever possible, how they could be improved and to hold Non-Executive Directors to account for the Board of Director’s performance.

The Council of Governors do this by:

  • Meeting with service users, carers, members and the public in their local community or staff group, to listen to their experiences and ideas and to provide feedback to the Trust, especially if a particular issue is seen as a trend.
  • Commenting for the membership on the Board’s strategic direction and annual planning, before it is finalised.
  • Participating in Trust initiatives to inform local communities, partner organisations and staff about the Trust’s plans, and celebrate achievements.
  • Questioning the Non-Executive Directors about the performance and effectiveness of the Board and its Committees.
  • Conducting formal business such as:
  • Appointing and, if appropriate, removing the Trust Chair and the Non-Executive Directors.
  • Having a say in the appointment of the Chief Executive.
  • Approving the appraisal process for the Chair and Non-Executive Directors.
  • Appointing and, if appropriate, removing the Trust’s External Auditors.
  • Receiving the Trust’s annual report and accounts (once these have been laid before Parliament) in order to understand the Trust’s performance.
  • Approving major transactions such as acquisitions, mergers or large tenders.

What is my role as an individual Governor?

  • To promote and support the organisation’s strategy.
  • To feed back information about the Trust, its vision and its performance to your members or stakeholder organisation.
  • To attend meetings of the Council of Governors.
  • To abide by the Code of Conduct and uphold the Trust’s values.
  • To act in the best interests of the Trust and preserve the Trust’s standing and reputation.
  • To comply with the policies and procedures of the Trust, including its Authorisation and Constitution.
  • To maintain an appropriate level of confidentiality in respect of information provided to the Council of Governors and its Committees.
  • To attend such training events as may be necessary in order to fulfil the role.
  • To represent the interests of the community, including service users and carers, by ensuring effective communication with members, feeding back information to the Trust as necessary.
  • If invited, to advise on staff appointments.

What can’t I do as a member of the Council of Governors?

Overall responsibility for running the Trust lies with the Board of Directors. There are therefore some things that I cannot do as a Governor:

  • I will not be involved in the day to day running of the Trust, setting budgets, staff pay or any other operational matters.
  • I cannot veto or over-rule decisions made by the Board of Directors.
  • I don’t play a part in considering the appointment or dismissal, appraisal, pay levels or conditions of service of Executive Directors
  • I should not raise complaints on behalf of individuals, or act as advocates, but should represent a broad range of interests in your constituency.

How long will I be a Public Governor for?

Public Governors are elected by the membership of Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust for three year terms. A Governor cannot serve for longer than two consecutive terms (six years).

How do you vote in Governor elections or stand as a Governor?

You can vote in the next round of Governor elections by joining the Trust as a member. Its free and anyone over the age of 12 who lives in England or Wales can join.

As a member, you can get involved as little or as much as you want. You can attend events, be consulted on Trust matters, help with surveys, write articles, vote in Governor elections or stand for election as a member of the Council of Governors. It’s entirely up to you.

Members will be notified when a round of Governor positions are up for election. You’ll be entitled to vote for the posts that represent your constituency or stand for a post in your constituency. Public Constituencies in this Trust are: Forest of Dean, Stroud, Cheltenham, Gloucester, Cotswolds and Tewkesbury.

Anyone over the age of 16, who is a member of the Trust, can stand for election as a Public Governor. You will be invited to apply via email before elections take place. The Trust then uses a third party organisation that manage the election process, and you’ll be elected on a first-past-the-post basis – where you receive one more vote than the next nearest candidate – unless you are the only candidate, in which case you will be elected automatically.

Important Links:

You can find out more about Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust on their website.

You can find out who the Governors for your local constituency are here.

You can find out more about Trust membership and join as a member by clicking here.

This information has been compiled from the Trust website and the Governor Role Description

© 2022 Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust.

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