PATIENT campaigners claim moves are being made to ‘gag’ them to prevent them speaking out about Dorset County Hospital.

But hospital governors Derek Julian and Michel Hooper-Immins says they will not be silenced following a move to stop individual governors speaking to the media.

Mr Julian, from Weymouth, has campaigned for years on patients’ behalf for more openness at the hospital and has highlighted a number of important issues including patient care, hospital cleanliness and trust finances.

A report to be presented to a meeting of the Dorset County Hospital’s council of governors today recommends the appointment of a spokesperson.

The report, which came from a governors’ working group meeting in July, also suggested further training for governors costing more than £3,800 and a workshop to improve relationships with staff.

Patient governor Mr Julian said it is part of the governor role to ensure there is transparency.

He said: “I speak for myself, not the board, and I have always made that clear. But it is a publically-elected governor’s right, if he is going to do the job correctly, to inform the public of what is going on in their hospital – both the good and the bad.

“Our job is to call the board to account, and that I will do. I will not be silenced.”

Mr Hooper-Immins said the move is an attempt to ‘gag’ governors who are perceived to speak out too much.

He said: “It’s something that has been going on for some time. Some governors seem to think that others talk far too much and this is a move to shut them up.

“It’s quite wrong. As a public governor I intend to carry on speaking up.

“We are enjoined to speak to members of the public and an important part of that is speaking to the press.”

A spokesman for Dorset County Hospital said: “This proposal has come from the Governors’ Working Group and will be discussed at the Council of Governors’ meeting. No decisions have been made.”

The report found that “Staff governors expressed the view that a minority of governors were frequently offensive and dismissive of them, which had, at times, created difficult relationships between the board and governors and between staff and public governors. It was suggested that consideration be given to a facilitated workshop designed to foster a culture of respect and courtesy”.


Comments to the media

THE report states: “The meeting agreed that all media enquiries requesting comment from the governors should be directed to the spokesperson.
“The meeting also agreed that individual governors making comments to the media on their own behalf should make it explicit to the media that they are commenting as a member of the public (not in their role as governor) and should inform the trust’s communications manager of anything they have said or plan to say to the media to give the trust the opportunity to comment on any resulting media coverage.”