60 seconds with Judy Dewinter

12 June 2018

Judy Dewinter is a patient and lead governor at the Royal Free London. We asked her about her role as a governor.

How long have you been a governor?

I’ve been an elected patient governor since 2012 and lead governor for the last two years.

What inspired you to become a governor?

The RFL is extremely important to me. I’ve been treated at the RFH for myeloma, an incurable bone marrow cancer, since 2003. This has included two bone marrow transplants. I remain on treatment and want to use my experience as a patient to benefit other patients.

Why is the governor role important to you as a patient?

I believe a strong patient voice is essential, particularly in the development and re-evaluation of clinical services and research. There are so many pressures on the NHS and it’s crucial not to lose sight of the importance of patient and public involvement. I feel that if I can contribute my experience and any skills that benefit the trust and its patients then I want to do this.

What do you do as a governor?

Aside from our quarterly council of governors’ meetings, as governors we sit on trust board committees and programme boards, in my case, the Pears Building programme board. Governors visit different areas of the hospital with non-executive directors (NEDs) and we play a key role in reviewing the trust’s performance against key indicators such as waiting times and referral to treatment. We are also responsible for appointing the NEDs who sit on the board, and the trust chairman.

In your opinion, what makes a good governor?

We all bring our own experiences, knowledge and skills. It can be a frustrating role at times because it’s really hard to measure our impact. To be an effective governor, to listen and continuously learn is essential.

What is the lead governor role?

The lead governor is the point of contact with the NHS regulator in certain specific circumstances, and in recent years the role has become much broader, particularly since the RFL became a hospital group. I meet with the trust leadership team and have effective working relationships and I see my role as helping to ensure the council of governors is as cohesive and effective as possible which also involves supporting fellow governors.

What do you most like about your role?

I like the fact that it is very varied. I meet so many interesting people and I continue to learn about the way the trust works. I enjoy the learning process hugely. I feel privileged to be in a position where I have access and visibility at all levels of the organisation and am, therefore, able to represent the interests of patients and really help them to be heard. I don’t take that for granted.

Other than your busy governor role how do you spend your time?

I chair the board of Myeloma UK, I also sit on various committees and advisory boards as a patient advocate and have also recently been appointed as a trustee of the Royal Free Charity. I choose my roles carefully as I am still on treatment and have limited time and energy.

What are you most proud of?

I think the Pears building, that will house the UCL Institute of Immunity and Transplantation, is going to be a huge development for patients.

If you would like to contact the governors please email us at: rf.governors@nhs.net.