Mike Hobbs is one of the trust’s new governors elected in May 2019, but he is in no way new to Oxford Health. Mike was employed by the trust and its predecessor organisations for nearly 30 years as a consultant psychiatrist and psychotherapist before joining the Council of Governors. He previously served as the trust’s medical director for eight years before retiring some seven years ago.
So what drew him to pursue the voluntary, unpaid role of a governor?
“I did make a conscious decision to stay away from the trust,” he laughs. “But 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.
“In the last couple of years I’ve become more and more interested, and to be frank, dismayed and angered about what is happening to mental health and community services. So I asked myself how I could contribute, and applying to become a governor was one way. And I was lucky enough to be elected.”
That said, Mike’s main motivation is not anger.
“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 believes.
“This requires that social care and mental and physical health care work more closely together, rather than people rattling from service to service. This opportunity is not realised yet, and if I can do anything to contribute to it becoming a reality, that’s my key motivation.”
As someone who saw Oxford Health become a foundation trust, how does he see this status? What does it mean to be a foundation trust?
“The most positive thing about it is we are responsible to local people and for engaging with the local population. We must use that potential. The trust can support the communities we serve, and those communities can support the trust,” he says.
“Of course our geography gives its own challenges; we work across a big area. But we could attempt to hold meetings and events in different places and meet people locally.”
As a governor Mike is looking forward to working creatively with his fellow council members, not only at Oxford Health but with governors from other local health organisations dealing with acute and social care.
“We should be talking about the whole system,” he states.
Mike is aware that there’s a lot of work to be done before we can achieve holistic care in the community and overcome limitations, and this will require more resources and collaborative working across the health and social care system.
But he remains positive about the trust he has now joined as a governor.
“Oxford Health has developed impressively despite the challenges. It is a respected, high quality, highly performing trust,” he says.
“And that is a really valuable achievement, down to the leadership and the trust’s loyal, hard-working staff.”
You can meet Mike at HealthFest on Saturday, September 14, at the trust membership stall. Come and say hello – and if you are not a member yet, sign up on the day and enter our £50 voucher prize draw.
You can contact Mike and all other governors by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org