Governors have an important role to play in NHS foundation trusts. The council of governors is responsible for representing the interests of NHS foundation trust members and partner organisations in the governance of NHS foundation trusts. Guidance on the statutory and wider responsibilities of governors and how they can be discharged can be found in relevant Monitor publications including the NHS Foundation Trust Code of Governance and Your Statutory Duties: A Reference Guide for NHS Foundation Trust Governors.
The NHS Foundation Trust Code of Governance recommends the appointment of a lead governor in addition to the chairman and a written document setting out the roles and responsibilities of governors. The chair of the trust is responsible for leadership of both the board of directors and for ensuring that the two boards work together effectively, but the governors also have a responsibility to make these arrangements work and should take the lead in inviting the chief executive or other board members to their meetings, where they may raise questions about the affairs of the trust of the chair or other board members.
In addition, the council of governors should establish a policy for engagement with the board of directors for those circumstances where they have concerns about the performance of the board of directors, compliance with the terms of authorisation or other matters about the trust's performance. In carrying out their role, governors should acknowledge the overall responsibility of the board of directors for running the trust. Should governors consider that the trust is at risk of significantly breaching the terms of its authorisation, and if these concerns cannot be satisfactorily resolved using appropriate trust governance channels including those described above, the council of governors should communicate directly with Monitor, through the nominated lead governor wherever possible.
NHS foundation trust governors will be given additional responsibilities and powers under the Health and Social Care Act 2012 (the 2012 Act). These are summarised here.
The changes have not yet come into force. Monitor is working with the Department of Health to establish when this will happen. The changes may not all commence at the same time. Statutory instruments known as commencement orders will confirm the start dates for the changes. Please check this webpage for updates.