Oxford Health’s Council of Governors elections are approaching, and we are inviting people to consider this public service role. Nominations will open March 27.

You might wonder whether you are qualified to become a governor. The answer is almost certainly YES. You don’t need any formal qualifications to be a governor – what we want is your experience and interest.

However, you must be a member of our trust and over 16.

Sign up as a member now. It’s free, doesn’t affect your care and carries no obligations.

There are some circumstances that will disqualify you from becoming a governor; for instance, if you are a member of Healthwatch. If you are unsure, please email The Membership Team at FT.MembershipCommunity@oxfordhealth.nhs.uk and we will help you.

How much time do I need to put in?

We estimate that the governor role takes about 15 hours per quarter.

The Council meets four times a year. The meetings are held in Thame on a Thursday evening between 6pm and 8pm. As a governor you are expected attend these meetings, although we understand it is sometimes not possible for everyone to make every meeting. Agenda and papers are sent to you in advance so you to prepare for the meeting and see what is set to be discussed.

We also has a Governor Forum, which takes place about two weeks before each Council meeting. The Forum is an opportunity for governors to discuss issues in a more informal setting and plan what to bring to the Council meetings.

We also encourage governors to join at least one governor sub-group. In these you can get a more in-depth view of various areas of the trust governance. The groups are:

  • Safety and Clinical Effectiveness
  • Patient and Staff Experience
  • Finance
  • Membership Involvement

Sub-groups meet four times a year. They are chaired by a governor, and agenda and papers are sent to you in advance.

Governors are elected for a period of up to three years, but you can resign at any time by writing to the company secretary or chairman of the trust.

Will I get paid?

No. The governor role is an unpaid, voluntary role, similar to school governors. Reasonable expenses will be reimbursed.

What’s in it for me?

People become governors for our trust for many different reasons. Some have a background in NHS and want to carry on contributing.

Mike Hobbs used to be the trust’s medical director before retiring some seven years ago.

“I have retained an interest and kept in touch with some colleagues. From them I’ve heard about both the positive things and the challenges that have been going on. I have a continuing interest in the radical potential that community services and mental health services have. We have a tremendous opportunity to provide whole person care in the community,” he said.

Maddy Radburn said:

“After 34 years in the NHS I was still keen to do something worthwhile in that environment. My specific interest is in community health, prevention of illness, keeping patients informed, managing patients’ expectations.”

Others feel their personal experience can help improve their local services. Benjamin Glass said:

“Having been a mental health patient for over two decades, I want do all that I can to improve the rights and representation of mental health service users.”

For many people contributing to causes they find meaningful is rewarding in and of itself. But as a governor you will also get the opportunity to learn new skills and get exposed to new situations. It could be getting more confident in public speaking, meeting like-minded people or simply liaising as equals with the kind of people you never have collaborated with before.

Above all, you will have a chance to shape your local health services.

You can contact our current governors at contactyourgovernor@oxfordhealth.nhs.uk

See who our governors are.