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 Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset. The Trust also provides Steps to Wellbeing services in Southampton. We serve a population of nearly 700,000 people and employ more than 7,500 staff, covering a wide range of expertise and specialisms
Our staff provide healthcare at over 300 sites, ranging from village halls and GP surgeries to mental health inpatient hospitals and community hospitals – as well as in people's homes. Our services continually evolve and develop to meet the needs of the local community.
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 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.
Each has a Board of Directors that is responsible for the delivery of high quality NHS care, financial efficiency, forward planning and innovation.
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 support us in the delivery of our mission to to provide integrated services that empower people accessing our services to make the most of their lives. They help the Trust achieve its objectives with the communities we serve.
Governors, who join together to form the Council of Governors, hold the non-executive directors to account for delivery of the strategy and objectives we develop.
Governors have a vital role in ensuring local accountability. As a council, governors have key responsibilities such as appointing and determining the pay of the chair and non-executive directors on the board of directors, the selection of ther external auditor, the development of an active membership by encouraging people to become members and sharing information about the Trust’s performance and future plans and representing the views of the public to the Trust.
Governors 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 represetning the views of the membership about the service that we provide. There are opportunities to get involved with specific projects and to represent the Trust locally and nationally.
Governors collectively form the Trust's Council of 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.
Every NHS Foundation Trust is required to have partner governors. Our council includes five partner governors, nominated by their organisation.
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.
Practical examples of what governors can do
Governors can take part in focused work on aspects of patient experience, for example in regular audits of the community hospital environment for patients.
Governors help to identify priorities for improvement and provide input into the annual quality account which the Trust is required to publish.
Governors play a lead role in seeking ways to make information 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 seven 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 Council of Governors meetings, in any 12 month period of the Council of Governors. However, most governors find that attending all of these meetings allows them to contribute fully in their role as a governor.
There is also a range of other governor activities, such as attending board of directors 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 with the chair.
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 governors to engage and communicate with the public that have elected them. Secretarial support and other information can also be provided and we will also arrange regular sessions where members can meet with governors.
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 for the length of the remaining term in office.
How do I apply?
In order to participate in the election, as a candidate or voter, you must be a member of the Trust on or before the closing date for the receipt of nominations. To become a member of the Trust, please apply on our members page.
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 and Civica, 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 250 words. Please read the guidance on election statements. before completing this section, and read through your statement carefully before returning your nomination form. Any words after the 250 word limit will not be included in the published election statement 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.
- they have been made bankrupt or their estate has been sequestrated and (in either case) they have not been discharged.
- they have made a composition or arrangement with, or granted a trust deed for, their creditors and have not been discharged in respect of it.
- they have within the preceding five years been convicted in the British Islands of any offence if a sentence of imprisonment (whether suspended or not) for a period of not less than three months (without the option of a fine) was imposed on them.
- they are less than 16 years of age at the date they are nominated for election.
- they have already held office as a governor of the Foundation Trust for more than six consecutive years.
Information and advice by telephone, email or post
Governor and Membership Manager
4-6 Nuffield Road
Telephone: 01202 277004
Guidance on election statements
Full guidance on election statements will be provided with your nomination form, but you may wish to consider the following themes when preparing your statement:
- Your reason for standing as a Public/staff 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 may decide 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 and your declaration of interests.
There are three vacancies to be filled in these elections:
- Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Constituency: four seats.
- Dorset and the rest of England and Wales Constituency: three seats.
- Staff Constituency: three seats.
|Publication of notice of election||28 July|
|Deadline for receipt of nominations||25 August|
|Publication of statement of nominations||29 August|
|Deadline for candidate withdrawals||31 August|
|Notice of poll/issue of ballot packs||19 September|
|Close of election||12 October|
|Declaration of result||13 October|
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 of the Trust, and 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's constitution, which sets out the various cicrumstances in which governors can be removed from the office. This can be viewed in our constitution.