Becoming a governor

This information is intended to help you if you are considering standing for election as a governor.

Dorset HealthCare is responsible for community and mental health services across Dorset and some services in Southampton. We serve a population of almost 700,000, employing around 6,000 staff with unique expertise and specialist knowledge.

Wherever possible, we want people to be able to stay in their own homes, which is why so many of our services are in the community, closer to home — caring for people - Our Community, Our HealthCare.

Dorset HealthCare became a Foundation Trust on 1 April 2007. Being a Foundation Trust gives us far more freedoms in terms of how we spend our money and develop as an organisation — this is why it is so important that we have a membership of people from the communities we serve, so that we can be sure we are responding to local need and integrating across traditional service boundaries.

We are regulated by two national organisations: NHS England/Improvement and the Care Quality Commission. These oversee how we operate as an organisation. The Care Quality Commission has awarded Dorset HealthCare a rating of Outstanding.

What are NHS Foundation Trusts?

NHS Foundation Trusts are not-for-proft, public benefit corporations which are part of the NHS. They were created to devolve decision-making from central government to local organisations and communities. They provide and develop healthcare according to core NHS principles:

  • free care
  • based on need
  • not ability to pay. 


Governor flow chart

What is the role of a governor?

Governors represent the views of, and provide a link to, our public, staff and partner organisations. Our governors are the guardians of our mission and values. They help the Trust achieve its objectives. They help the Trust engage with the communities we serve. 

Governors, who join together to form the Council of Governors, hold the board to account for delivery of the strategy and objectives we develop with them.

Governors are a vital part of the NHS Foundation Trust mechanism for local accountability. As a council, governors have key responsibilities such as appointing and determining the pay of the chairman and non-executive directors on the board of directors, the selection of ther external auditor, the development of an active membership and representing the views of the public.

They are not responsible for the day-to-day running of the organisation, which rests with the board of directors. However, governors have an important advisory role to the boards of directors. 

There is an important role in acting as the eyes and ears of the membership as regards the quality of the service that we provide. There are opportunities to work on specific projects and to represent the Foundation Trust locally and nationally.   

Governors collectively form the Trust Council of Governors. 


Public governors

Every NHS Foundation Trust is required to have a majority of public governors on the council of governors. Our council of governors includes 14 public governors, elected from three seperate constituencies. 

Partner governors

Every NHS Foundation Trust is required to have partner governors. Our council includes five partner governors, nominated by their organisation. 

Staff governors 

Our council includes six staff governors, elected amongst our staff, both clinical and non-clinical. Staff governors do not deal with any individual or personal issues that may involve staff, such as disciplinary proceedures or changes to staff contracts. The staff governor's role is very different from trade unions, professional bodies and staff-side organisations.  

Staff with patient.jpgPractical examples of what governors can do

Patient experience

Governors can take part in focused work on aspects of patient experience, for example in regular audits of community hospital cleaning.


Governors monitor the quality of the services delivered by the hospital to identify priorities for improvement and provide input into the annual quality account which the Trust is statutorily required to publish.

Governors play a lead role in seeking ways to make the document more accessible and readable.

Engagement with Foundation Trust members and the general public

Governors develop and implement the membership strategy, including recruitment, retention and engagement. Governors support this in a number of ways including:

  • hosting regular engagement events in their communities around Dorset
  • attending events with the membership manager to recruit new members
  • participating in the Annual Members’ Meeting to highlight and explain the role of the governors and give a brief account of the previous 12 months.

What is the commitment for governors?

Every year there will be a minimum of six council meetings including the Annual Members’ Meeting. These meetings are the core commitment. The minimum requirement to remain in office as a governor is to attend three of these meetings, in any 12 month period of the Council of Governors.

There is also a range of other governor activities, such as attending committee meetings, governor working groups, meetings with members, joint workshops with directors, site visits, training days and some reading that are all important to effective governorship.

Governors do not have to take part in workings groups. However, many governors say that it is here that they get particular satisfaction from their work.

This means that you might typically expect to commit up to two days per month to your role as a governor, which could include council meetings, working groups, reading, meetings with members and visits.

When you are first elected there will also be an induction and training programme to help you understand more about the role of being a governor.

Support for governors

Induction and training

A tailored induction programme is provided for new governors. This comprehensive programme will be designed to provide all governors with the opportunity to learn more about their role as a governor, the information necessary to support them in the discharge of their duties and further an introduction to the ways in which governors can, and should, contribute to, and influence, developments at the Foundation Trust.

The chairman will hold an informal introductory session for newly elected governors prior to attending their first Council of Governors meeting.

The Council of Governors as individuals or as a collective group may seek additional training or skills in specific areas. This will be agreed by with the chairman.

Newly elected governors will have the opportunity to work with an existing governor, who will provide advice and support.

Governors will also be supported in their communication with Trust members, and the public in general. This will be through the membership office. This includes supporting you to engage and communicate with the public that have elected you. Secretarial support and other information can also be provided and we will also arrange regular sessions where members can meet with Governors.

Upcoming council meetings

How long would I be a governor?

Governors are elected for a three year term of office. The maximum number of consecutive terms of office is three (ie nine years in total).

If a governor should resign, or if they cease to be eligible for any other reason, then their position as a governor comes up for re-election.

How do I apply?

Nomination forms are available from the returning office for the election - UK Engage. 

In order to apply, you will need to complete the nomination form by providing:

  • your full name and title and your name as you wish it to appear on the ballot paper (if different)
  • your address for correspondence, contact telephone number, contact email and date of birth - this information is for use by the Trust an UK Engage who will run the election for us. It will not be printed in the ballot paper.
  • the constituency in which you are standing for election 
  • an election statement of no more than 150 words. Please read the guidance on election statements before completing this section, and read through your statement carefully before returning your nomination form. Statements will be cut off after 150 words so please make sure that you do not exceed the word limit
  • your declaration of interests (including whether you are a member of a political party, and have any financial or other interests in the Trust - for instance, you are related to an employee of the Trust)  
  • a declaration that you are eligible to be a governor of the Trust.

Information and advice by telephone, email or post


Membership Manager

Corporate Department

Dorset HealthCare

Sentinel House

4-6 Nuffield Road



BH17 0RB

Telephone: 01202 277004

Guidance on election statements

Full guidance on election statements will be provided with your nomination form, but please find them below in brief.

You may wish to consider the following themes when preparing your statement: your reason for standing as a public governor, the skills you could bring to this role and your relationship/contact with the Trust.

Your election statement will be reproduced and circulated to voters with the ballot paper. Please note that in the interest of fairness, we will ensure candidates’ election statements are reproduced exactly as they have been submitted. Therefore, please check your election statement carefully for any grammatical or spelling errors before submitting it.

We reserve the right to edit or refuse to publish your election statement if it is factually inaccurate or contains libellous material.

Please state the total number of words used at the end of your election statement. If your election statement exceeds the word limit, it will be cut at the word limit followed by the words ‘statement cut at word limit’.

You are encouraged to submit a photo to support your election statement.

Failure to provide an election statement by close of nominations will not invalidate your application; instead, the words ‘statement not received’ will be published in the space where your statement would have appeared.

The following information will accompany your election statement: your name as you wish it to appear; the constituency in which you are standing; your declaration of interests.

Election timetable

There are ten vacancies to be filled in these elections:

Bournemouth Constituency two seats, Poole Constituency one seat, Dorset and the rest of England Constituency three seats and Staff Constituency four seats.



Last Day for Publication of Notice of Election

Weds, 18 August 2021

Deadline for receipt of nominations

Mon, 6 September 2021

Publication of Statement of Nominations

Tues, 7 September 2021

Deadline for candidate withdrawals

Thurs, 9 September 2021

Notice of Poll/Issue of ballot packs

Tues, 21 September 2021

Close of Poll 5.00pm

Thurs, 14 October 2021

Count and Declaration of Result

Friday, 15 October 2021

All members will be sent ballot forms, inviting them to vote in the election. This form will include brief information about every candidate, including their election statement.

Prospective governors are not expected to undertake significant electioneering.

Detailed information about eligibility to be a governor

A person may not become a governor if:

  • already holding such office will immediately cease to do so if:
  • they are a director or an associate director (or equivalent, as determined by the chair and chief executive) of the Foundation Trust or a governor or director of an NHS body (unless they are appointed by an appointing organisation which is an NHS body or the Chair of the Trust decides that any potential conflict of interest is not material.)
  • they are the spouse, partner, parent, child, sister or brother of a member of the Board of Directors or associate director (or equivalent, as determined by the Chair and Chief Executive) of the Foundation Trust
  • they are a member of Health Watch (nationally or locally)
  • they are deemed to be a vexatious complainant, as determined in accordance with the Foundation Trust’s complaints procedure
  • they have been previously removed as a governor or they have been removed as a governor or expelled from membership of another foundation trust
  • being a member of the Public Constituency, they refuse to sign a declaration in the form specified by the secretary of particulars of their qualification to vote as a member of the Foundation Trust, and that they are not prevented from being a member of the Council of Governors
  • they are a person who, by reference to information revealed in a criminal record certificate or enhanced criminal record certificate issued by the Disclosure and Barring Service under Part V of the Police Act 1997, is considered by the Foundation Trust to be inappropriate on the grounds that his appointment might adversely affect public confidence in the Foundation Trust or otherwise bring the Foundation Trust into disrepute
  • they are included in any barred list established under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, or who is included in an equivalent list maintained under the law of Scotland or Northern Ireland
  • they are subject to a sex offender order or committed any sex offence prior to the introduction of the Sex Offenders Act 1997
  • within the last five years they have been involved as a perpetrator in a serious incident of violence.
  • they have within the preceding two years been dismissed, otherwise than by reason of redundancy, from any paid employment with an NHS body
  • they are a person whose tenure of office as the chair or as a member or director of an NHS body has been terminated on the grounds that their appointment is not in the interests of the health service, for non-attendance at meetings, or for non-disclosure of a pecuniary interest.
  • they are the subject of a moratorium period under a debt relief order (under Part 7A of the insolvency Act 1986)
  • they have been convicted of an offence of fraud against the Trust.

The Trust constitution sets out various cicrumstances in which Trust governors can be removed from the office. This can be viewed on the Trust website.

Staff Governors - elections