Shirley Murray on how Foundation Trust Members can get involved in the New Hospitals ProgrammeDate posted: 28th June 2021
How did you get involved with Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust?
I don’t have an NHS background, in fact, I worked in the nuclear industry, but I was volunteering for Baby Beat, a charity supporting parents and babies on the maternity wards at Royal Preston Hospital, when I was approached about becoming a Foundation Trust Member.
At the time I didn’t even know what the membership meant! I was keen to get involved though, so I registered to become a Foundation Trust Member and ended up being voted in as a Volunteer Governor as well, a responsibility that I’m very proud of.
What is a Foundation Trust Member and why is membership so important?
Becoming a Foundation Trust Member means being invited to meetings, being asked your opinion and getting important news and updates about our hospitals. It’s a way to represent our communities and have a say about local services. I’m a member of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, but all of the local NHS organisations have similar opportunities. I’m also a Governor, which is the next level of responsibility around making sure the Trust best represents the interests of the public, with more meetings and workshops to attend.
Why are Foundation Trust Members an important part of the Lancashire and South Cumbria New Hospitals Programme?
Becoming a Foundation Trust Member is a way to receive accurate, first-hand information about the possible changes that are going to take place to hospital facilities in our region and give feedback on behalf of yourself, your friends, family, neighbours and communities. For example, I’ve heard a lot of people recently speculating that the design and location of our new hospital facilities have already been decided, and that is not the case. So I’ve been able to reassure them.
Foundation Trust Members not only have access to the most up-to-date information about what’s going on with the programme, but we can also have our say as well, so that when those decisions are made, we can be a part of them. I can also help the Trust share this accurate information with our communities, so the more of us that are involved, the better the outcome for everyone.
Is your role as a Foundation Trust Member, what would you say are the public’s biggest concerns about the programme?
Firstly, I don’t think that everyone knows the reasons why our facilities need to change.
I’m from Preston and local people are very proud of the Royal Preston Hospital. Many people can remember Diana, Princess of Wales opening the hospital in 1983, so the facilities don’t feel that old to the majority of local residents. It’s also got a helipad and lots of other seemingly up-to-date features, so on the face of it, people just don’t see what’s wrong with what we have already.
Secondly, a lot of people are worried about having to travel further to access services, especially in an emergency. Becoming a Foundation Trust Member gives the general public access to some of the answers to these questions first-hand, as well as an opportunity to speak up about these concerns. Instead of speaking about it over the garden fence, we can have conversations in the places where it can really make a difference.
How do I become a Foundation Trust Member?
Find out more about how to sign up to become a Member of your local Foundation Trust on the Get involved page of the New Hospitals Programme website. You will also find information about other ways to get involved in the New Hospitals Programme too.
What would you say to anyone thinking about becoming a Foundation Trust Member?
Don’t shy away from the opportunity to speak up about the New Hospitals Programme and other important issues. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a background in the NHS, I don’t either. The general public will all have the opportunity to have their say about proposals for new hospital facilities at public consultation later in the process. Foundation Trust Members get to speak up now. It’s also really important that the Trust members represent the area we live in, so we’re particularly keen to get more young people and people from diverse backgrounds to join our membership.