Hilary Harland is one of our public governors, representing the Merton constituency. We spoke to her to learn more about her role and why she wanted to get involved with the Trust.

Tell us about your connection with the Trust?

“I’ve lived in Merton most of my life. My three children were born at Queen Mary’s, my parents were treated here in their later days, and, like most local residents, from time to time I have myself been grateful for its services.”

Why did you want to become a governor?

“My career was as a dentist in a large NHS practice where our aim was to provide excellent dental care with maximum patient satisfaction. So I have always been interested in looking at things from the patient’s point of view.

“For example, how does it feel to sit in the waiting room, how important is the attitude of the receptionist, and does “the feel” of a health facility give one confidence? These things are just as important in a large acute hospital. I wanted to become a governor to have an input into such things here at St George’s.”

What does the role involve?

“There are five formal Council of Governors meetings per year and we are expected to attend all of these. However there are many opportunities to be further involved. We sit in on sub- committees of the Board or take part in inspections of wards/departments where our role is to assess the environment from the patient’s perspective.

“Governors are not management; they don’t make decisions. But their views are very much taken into account especially when aired at a formal public Council meeting.

“As part of our role we also engage with members of the public and explain how we can act as a channel for their views, as well as short list, interview and appoint the Trust’s Chairman and the other non-executive directors.”

What do you enjoy most about being a governor?

“I enjoy the opportunity at “Meet your Governor” sessions, to talk to hospital users and have had many interesting conversations with people from our diverse community. I enjoy working with governor colleagues knowing we are all committed to making St George’s even better.

“We have a world class institution here, providing leading-edge treatments, and it is a privilege to be associated with it.”

Why do you think it’s important for patients and the public to have a say in running their local hospital?

“NHS hospitals are funded by public money. Thousands of dedicated staff put huge effort into running them. But the reason a hospital exists is not to be a source of employment but to benefit patients and their families. So I think that it is vital that people should have a say in how something as essentially important to them as their local hospital is run.”