By Dr Peter Belfield, Chair of Trustees
Dr Peter Belfield has been on the St Gemma’s Board of Trustees for many years and Chair of the Board for five years. At the end of 2022, we will say goodbye to Pete and welcome a new Chair. Thank you to Pete for all he has done to support St Gemma’s Hospice. In this blog he reflects on this time and shares his thoughts as outgoing Chair:
“At the end of the year, I am standing down as a Trustee after nine years, having been Chair of our Board for the last five; so now is a good time to look back and reflect on being a Trustee.
St Gemma’s is all about providing compassionate care to patients and their loved ones at the end of life. This is something that our regulator, the Care Quality Commission confirmed we are outstanding at in 2016 and again early this year. All our staff and volunteers played a part in this – clinicians providing high quality care, our fundraisers and shops tirelessly raising money for us, our volunteers who support us in so many ways and our educational and research effort which adds so much value and improves care. These things make us a leader in the field of palliative care.
Being a Trustee is a privilege
I was appointed by interview and moved from a busy NHS leadership role and background as a doctor caring for older people to become a Trustee. A voluntary unpaid role which has been one of the most fulfilling in my career.
Trustees need “noses in everything but fingers out’. We don’t meddle in operational details but are here to support the vision of the hospice and to help us get closer to that. A Trustee’s job is to make sure we don’t get in the way but to facilitate using our wide and diverse range of experience to best effect. Working with other Trustees is rewarding and informative. Our Trustee chairs of subcommittees are enthusiastic volunteers who are still at the top of their game, so I rest easy knowing that quality, finance and governance are well covered.
Being Chair of our Board is more work but more rewarding
As Chair of Trustees, I spend more time at the Hospice and work more closely with our excellent hospice leadership team. In particular, the relationship with our Chief Executive Kerry Jackson, is pivotal to smooth working of the Board and ultimately the Hospice. We tested this during the Covid-19 pandemic when the hospice performed brilliantly despite all the difficulties we faced. I am really grateful for all the hard work of Kerry and her team and the input of other Trustees.
I am pleased that in my time as chair we have also had a greater focus on diversity and inclusion and spiritual care. We remain eternally grateful to the Sisters of Cross and Passion who founded the hospice over 40 years ago. They have given and continue to give so much.
Stand out moments
There are probably four big ticket items:
- Becoming the first University Teaching Hospice in the country in 2017
- The celebration of 40 years of the Hospice in existence in 2018
- Getting through the Covid -19 pandemic in 2020-22
- Retaining the CQC rating of Outstanding in 2022.
However, the real stand outs are reminders of the day-to-day care we provide, the uplifting patients stories we hear to start every Board meeting, my visits to shops where staff play such a vital role in their communities, meeting clinical and managerial staff at the Hospice, and being greeted by the friendly staff on reception. The love of the people of Leeds and beyond is palpable – thank you.
I shall miss being a Trustee immensely, however it is time for new leadership to help guide St Gemma’s successfully through the next decade. I step down knowing we have a wonderful group of Trustees to help facilitate this.”