Cathy Maker is an elected public governor for the borough of Richmond and is Kingston Hospital’s Deputy Lead Governor. We spoke to Cathy about her time as a governor.
Q. When were you first elected as a governor?
I was elected as a governor in 2017 and was re-elected in 2020 for a second term. I became Deputy Lead Governor in May 2020.
Q. Why did you decide that you would like to be a governor at Kingston Hospital?
Having lived in the area for 18 years, my experience of Kingston Hospital has centred on major life events and injuries involving my family and friends. I have always been so impressed by the compassion and care with which the hospital executed its duty. Further to this, I run a disability charity based in Richmond and over the years we have supported many disabled and elderly clients as they transition from hospital care to home support. I know that better integration between hospital and community services would make a huge difference to our clients. I was motivated to join the team at Kingston to gain a better understanding of the hospital processes and to bring my experience of the voluntary sector to aid greater integration between hospital and community services.
Q. How does your role as a governor support the hospital, patients and members?
I see the governor’s role as a kind of “check and balance”. We meet and talk to patients and take their feedback to the right people to action. We attend sub-committee meetings, read reports and ask questions. One of our roles is to make sure that the non-executive directors are doing their job well. We do this by observing them in action, listening to presentations and asking questions. We keep the jargon down and the patient to the fore. We also represent the hospital at events, talk to community organisations, and encourage residents to join as a member or fundraise for the hospital.
Q. What do you think have been the biggest successes of the hospital over the last few years?
Winning awards particularly for their work with patients with dementia; being rated as ‘outstanding’ by the CQC – this is a high performing hospital. But for me, the biggest success of this hospital is the way it has responded to COVID. To rally as quickly as it has; the flexibility of staff to learn new skills and work in different departments; the high performing maternity team… but most importantly being one of the few hospitals that has continued to meet its cancer treatment targets throughout the pandemic. That, to me, is outstanding.
Q. What do you enjoy the most about being a governor?
As governors we go on what is called a “walkabout”. A governor and a non-executive director and a senior member of the executive team visit an area of the hospital and talk to staff and patients. I love this. This is where I really see how the hospital works. Over the years I have visited a number of wards, but I have also been to the HR department, the Information team and even the mortuary. It is humbling to talk to staff and see their passion and enthusiasm for their work. It is also very reassuring to see how the executives and non-executive directors interact with the staff. There is a genuine interest in what staff and patients have to say and mutual respect between all levels of the staff team at the hospital.