The role of Governors and what they do

Being a Foundation Trust

The Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust was authorised (now licensed) as a given NHS Foundation Trust status on 1 December 2009.  A copy of the provider licence can be found here

What is a NHS Foundation Trust?

NHS foundation trusts have been created to devolve decision-making from central Government to local organisations and communities so they are more responsive to the needs of local people.

Local people, patients and staff can have a real say in the Trust’s decisions by becoming and acting as members of the foundation trust. A Council of Governors, which is representative of the local population and elected by the members, holds the Trust Board to account.

Although run locally, NHS foundation trusts remain fully part of the NHS. They have been set up in law as legally independent organisations called Public Benefit Corporations, with a primary purpose to provide NHS services to NHS patients and users according to NHS principles and standards. The public still receive free healthcare based on need.

Foundation trusts have more financial freedom and can raise funds from both the public and private sectors to invest in services.

An independent regulator called Monitor, which is directly accountable to Parliament, assesses a Trust’s ability to run as a foundation trust, and, once foundation Trust status is granted, oversees the Trust to ensure it is acting properly as an foundation trust.

How to become a member

You can become a member if you are aged 16 or over and have either been a patient in the last three years or live within Guildford, Waverley, Woking, Mole Valley, East Hampshire, Elmbridge or Chichester or are a member of staff.

Benefits of being a member include:

  • Electing representatives onto the Council of Governors which holds the Trust’s Board of Directors to account.
  • Members can stand for election as a member of the Council of Governors.
  • The Council of Governors allows members to give their views on the Trust’s activities and influence the development of the Trust’s services.
  • Members can help the Trust develop their services to make sure they meet the needs of the local communities.
  • Members receive a regular magazine which keeps them up to date with events and developments throughout the Trust and the activities of the Council of Governors.
  • Members are able to access a special discount scheme which is only available to people working for, or closely with, the NHS.

To become a member fill in the application form here  

Council of Governors

The Council of Governors plays a key role in taking the Trust forward and ensuring it is meeting the needs of its communities. The governors gather the views of the hospital’s members to give them a voice at the highest level of the organisation. Governors also work closely with the Trust’s Board to influence decision making and ensuring all services are continually improving.

There are 26 governors serving on the Council of Governors:

  • 14 elected public governors
  • Two elected rest of England governors
  • Five elected staff governors
  • Five appointed governors representing various stakeholders

The Register of Interests for the Council of Governors may be inspected by contacting the Company Secretary

The main role of the council is to:

  • Advise the Board of Directors of the views of the membership
  • Comment on the development of strategic plans for the Trust

In addition some of the statutory responsibilities of the Council include:

  • Appoint and, if appropriate, remove the Chair and Non – Executive Directors (NEDS)
  • Decide the remuneration, allowances and terms and conditions of the Chair and NEDS
  • Approving the appointment of the Chief Executive of the Trust
  • Appoint and, if appropriate, remove the trust’s external auditor
  • Hold the NEDS individually and collectively to account for the performance of the Board of Directors
  • May require one or more Directors to attend Council of Governors meeting to obtain information about the Trust’s performance of its functions or directors’ performance of their duties.
  • Represent the interests of the public and members
  • Receive the annual accounts, auditor’s report and annual report
  • Approve ‘significant transactions’
  • Approve an application by the trust to enter into a merger, acquisition, separation or dissolution.
  • Decide whether the Trust’s non NHS work would significantly interfere with the trust’s principal purpose (i.e. the provision of goods and services for the health service in England or the performance of its other functions).
  • Approve any amendments to the Trust’s constitution.

Dates of the Council of Governors meeting can be found here 

Agendas for Council of Governor meetings can be found here 

How long is a governor’s term of office?

Governors serve for three years and may stand for further terms up to a maximum four terms. Governors do not receive remuneration; however, travelling expenses are reimbursed.

What sort of person can be a governor?

You don’t need any special skills or qualifications to be a governor. The most important thing you need is enthusiasm and the willingness to represent not just your own views but also the views of the people in your community or staff group. If you have some understanding of the NHS or the hospital, that’s great, but not essential. A basic knowledge of computers would be advantageous, as correspondence will be mainly sent via email by the Trust and constituents.

How much time is expected from Governors?

The Council of Governors meets four times each year and governors can get involved with other groups and committees established to look into areas in more detail.  There may also be groups, shared workshops and projects that governors will be invited to attend.

Council of Governors’ Committees

The Council of Governors has a Nominations Committee to assist it in meeting its statutory responsibilities and other committees as it sees fit – see Council of Governors

©2017 Royal Surrey County Hospital

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