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Board affiliate blog – Hannah Hornby – November 2022

Board meetings: My initial reflections and goals

The two-month milestone in my Board Affiliate role has been and gone and I find myself here at the start of November with a whole load of new experiences, challenges, knowledge and uncertainties which make this the perfect time for my next blog post.

I have now attended two board meetings, one committee meeting, NED briefings, a board development day and training sessions. I have also met with my mentor, had 1:1 meetings with board members, started the Trainee Leadership Board and all of this is alongside a hectic clinical caseload and house renovation! Safe to say it has been a busy few months but I am slowly getting to grips with the role and enjoying this new venture so far.

One of the main things that attracted me to the Board Affiliate role was the opportunity to attend board meetings, so now I have been to a couple I wanted to put my reflections down on paper and give an insight into how it all went.

My first board meeting

About a week before the board meeting the papers were sent out and I settled in for a full day of reading and preparation. The Board Affiliate role is one day a week and I was very glad to have set aside this time to really get to grips with the papers, to look up unfamiliar terms and to pick out areas where I may be able to add value. At first the amount of reading material – much of it on very unfamiliar topics – was daunting, but the more I read the more interested I became and I quickly found that certain papers stood out as real areas of interest for me, particularly those relating to people and workforce. Lots of questions and comments came to mind as I was looking through the papers, but no matter how many times I am told ‘there’s no such thing as a stupid question’ I was still having a hard time believing it. ‘Stupid’ is probably the wrong word here but ‘misdirected’, ‘irrelevant’ or ‘inappropriate’ were certainly my concerns. ‘Is this a good question to ask at board or is it just that I don’t understand it?’ was constantly on my mind, but in the end it mostly came down to having confidence that my opinions and questions are valid and I kept reminding myself of the advice I was given: if you’re thinking it then someone else probably is as well. I had a word with myself, reminded myself of why I chose to apply for this role and my goals, and set to work making a list of all my questions, stupid or otherwise.

The day of my first board meeting came and I set off to The Bucks County Council HQ in Aylesbury for one of the first in-person meetings since the pandemic. It was a lovely meeting space and a nice atmosphere with everyone able to see each other face-to-face again. Although I did have some nerves, the warm welcome and support that I received from all the board members put me at ease and gave me confidence. The papers were taken as read, discussions and questions took place and I am pleased to report that I did ask some of my questions and make some comments and guess what… turns out they weren’t completely ridiculous! My goals for my first board meeting were to understand the format and logistics of the day, put forward at least one question and make a good impression and I feel like I did manage to achieve all of those.

My second board meeting

By the time the next board meeting came around I felt prepared. The papers took less time to read and I was looking forward to it. I felt more confident and I had spent some time looking things up and growing my knowledge of things such as the wider NHS structure, so even when I wasn’t actively participating in the discussions I was able to follow things much more easily. As I gain more insight into the board’s priorities and become more skilled in identifying questions and discussion points, I really hope I can add more value and represent the voice of the BHT workforce as loudly and effectively as possible.