LYPFT Governor Case Studies - Joseph Riach

Joseph is a Service User Governor at the Trust, learn more about the role.

Hello. My name is Joseph Riach, and I have been a Service User Governor for the Trust for approximately three years. Outside of my governor role, I am completing a mathematics degree with the Open University, am a member of my local Labour Party, and enjoy travelling with my wife around Europe and beyond.

I was interested in putting myself forward for the role of Service User Governor following a period spent as an inpatient at the Newsam Centre in 2020 during the Covid pandemic – I felt my experience there highlighted areas where care was outstanding but also areas where care could be improved, and I wanted to personally highlight the concerns of fellow service users at Board level. Being a member of the Council of Governors has given me an opportunity to do this. My vision for LYPFT is that across all services and departments, there are effective staffing levels, caring staff, service user involvement and management that is well-led and represents the community it serves.

My role as governor involves attending quarterly Council of Governors’ meetings which can be either face to face or virtual. At the meetings we discuss the information that has been provided in our paperwork, which usually includes performance data, a financial report, a report from the Chief Executive, a report from the Chair, a report from the Lead Governor and reports on other key areas of interest. We often get presentations from services too. At all times there is an opportunity to ask the Board of Directors questions and scrutinise the information we have received. At the meetings we hold the Non-executive Directors to account and receive assurance about key service indicators such as bed occupancy, out of area placements, or the Trust’s financial position. I enjoy being able to represent the views of fellow service users at a high level. I have enjoyed meeting and forming working relationships with fellow governors and finding out what the essential priorities are for the Trust going forward.

Outside of the Council of Governors’ meetings, I have observed a number of Board sub-committees, such as the Quality Committee, and have also been part of face-to-face service visits to services including Acute Services and the Pharmacy Department. I have also attended a workshop on the introduction of Integrated Care Boards with governors from various other Mental Health Trusts. There are also opportunities to attend training sessions with NHS Providers.

I would recommend the role of governor to anyone that would like to develop their knowledge of how an NHS Foundation Trust operates, offer feedback on their own care or the care of loved ones, and be part of high-level strategic decision making on mental healthcare across the cities of Leeds and York. For those interested in applying, I would say that attending the induction will really help you in transitioning into the role of Governor, and that the Council of Governors’ meetings are an open, and transparent way of offering your views and learning about the priorities of Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. It has been a privilege and a rewarding experience for myself and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in the role.