Governor blog - December 2015

Chris Godseth110x119

Meet Chris Godeseth, one of our newest governors representing the rest of England and Wales. Here, Chris talks about what it’s like to be a governor at UHS, what he enjoys most and why he’d like to hear from you.

I joined the Council of Governors in May 2015 to represent Trust members living in the "rest of England and Wales" – that is, outside Southampton and the immediate surrounding areas.

Even though I have previously worked as a doctor in a similar sized Trust and still work in a related industry, there has been a lot to get to grips with. This has included the peculiarities of government funding and the important range of care standards and targets that the Trust must meet – as well as a huge number of new people to get to know.

So what does a governor do?

The role of NHS foundation trust governors is described by Monitor as "collectively holding the board of directors to account". This might sound a bit abstract, but it boils down to being interested and asking questions about decisions that are being made.

As with most companies of any size, UHS has two distinct groups of directors – the "executive" directors are the most senior managers employed by the Trust, including the chief executive and finance director. Joining them on the Trust Board are a number of appointed "non-executives", including the Board's chairman. These "non-execs" are typically experienced in business and/or finance and it is this group that governors tend to interact with more frequently. We have a few specific tasks set out in law, but are mostly able to work in ways that we think will have the biggest impact.

Governors attend a number of Trust Board meetings and sub-groups throughout the year, looking to understand the thinking behind their strategic decisions. We also hold meetings where we invite specific directors or other staff to talk to us about their particular areas of expertise.

Since June, we have:

  • held meetings with the Trust's auditor and non-executives, focussing on finance and strategy
  • met with the team behind clinical research and development at the Trust
  • held an open meeting with the Trust’s membership.

The best bit...

After a few months in the role, I have found the best bit about being a governor to be the opportunity to see at close quarter, the enthusiasm and commitment of management and clinical staff. To see the team working together and most of all to learn about the patients for whom this all translates into life-enhancing care.

...and the biggest challenge

The biggest challenge is deciding on the priorities for further investigation or questioning. We volunteer to carry out the role of governors to represent the interests of (and give a voice to) patients, the local community and you, the members of the Trust.

Talk to us

To do this properly, and to help us to identify the issues that are most important to you, we are building new ways of communicating so that we can hear your views on the issues that matter the most.

If you have any issues that you would like to raise, or if you’d like to find out more about the Council of Governors and who represents you, please get in touch by emailing