As part of our series of interviews with the Trust’s governors, we spoke to Alfredo Benedicto.

Alfredo is one of our appointed governors, representing HealthWatch Merton.

Tell us a bit about who you represent on our council of governors?

“I am the appointed governor on behalf of HealthWatch Merton, an independent organisation created to help health and social care work better for the residents of Merton.

“Our purpose is to find out what matters to our members and to help make sure that their views shape the support they need. We have statutory powers to ensure that the government and those running the services listen to the members of the public and take action based on their needs.”

What do you enjoy about being a governor?

“There are many layers about being a governor. You can fulfil your statutory role by attending the four council of governors meetings that take place every year. That, nonetheless, will provide only a superficial understanding of the Trust.

“A second layer of involvement will see the governor observing the Board and Subcommittees meetings. This provides a deeper understanding of the Trust and gives us the opportunity of seeing the players in real action. And a third layer, and perhaps the most rewarding, is when you get involved in members’ activities within the hospital, such as ward accreditations, place inspections, fund raising initiatives and strategy workshops.”

Since becoming a governor, what has been a highlight for you?

“Most importantly, seeing the Trust coming out of special quality measures and decisively addressing the issues in the cardiac surgery unit have been key highlights for me.

“On a personal basis, these past three years as a governor have given me the opportunity to meet an incredibly committed and experienced array of top quality professionals performing at their best under straining conditions.

“On an anecdotal basis, it was nice working with the hospital charity to get a donation of a piano to be placed within the hospital.”

Governor elections are taking place soon – why would you encourage our members to vote? 

“Members can make a difference by electing or being elected governor. You can help shaping the strategy and functioning of the trust and foster a collaborative and engaging environment where the patients are placed at the centre of every decision, of every action. This is a unique opportunity to have a say, to make an impact, to progress the quality of healthcare in St George’s.”

Finally, what are your thoughts on the way staff at the Trust have responded to the Covid-19 pandemic?

“These are times of unique and unseen challenges for each and every one of us at all levels, but none has been more challenged than the NHS and its patient facing providers such as St George’s Hospital. And indeed, the Trust, the staff, the executive team, the members, have all faced up to these challenges with the upmost professionalism, dedication and abnegation that have made, are making and will continue to make them the true heroes of this pandemic. Bring back the Thursday night clap!”