Meet our Patient Council
James S Griffiths BSc PhD CEng CGeol FIMMM FGS PFHEA
Emeritus Professor of Engineering Geology, University of Plymouth
Chair of Patient Council
Having been born during the early years of the NHS I have seen the benefits to society of a ‘national’ health service. Irrespective of their wealth or background people in the UK have access to top quality health care. Having travelled extensively (see profile) I know what it is like to have to pay for healthcare or have your credit card checked before receiving treatment. Like many I can thank the NHS for my life. Although I do not have the skills to treat patients, I wish to do anything I can to support the NHS mission of a free health service for all. Joining the Patients Council will enable me to use my management experience to help maintain or even improve the service that Derriford Hospital can provide to their patients.
After completing my PhD research at King’s College, London, in early 1979, I worked for the next 15 years in the civil engineering industry as an engineering geologist. This involved me in projects throughout the UK, as well as in Pakistan, Syria, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Liberia, Chile, Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea, Australia and the USA. A change of career in late 1993 took me to the University of Plymouth initially as a lecturer but I soon took over as the Head of Geology, then the Head of the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Science. In my final two years at the university I was the Dean of Research & Innovation, and a member of the senior executive team. Whilst at the university I continued to work as a consultant and was involved in projects in Georgia, Algeria and Hong Kong, as well as undertaking lecture tours in Switzerland, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand.
I ‘semi- retired’ in June 2015 but continue working as a consultant, most recently in Northern Ireland, and have often been a guest or keynote lecturer at companies, conferences and universities. I am a trustee and member of the Council of the Geological Society of London, a trustee and member of the Committee of the League of Friends of Derriford Hospital as well as a volunteer in their bookshop. In addition, I continue to publish, and I am the co-author or editor of eight books and nearly 100 scientific papers.
I am married to Sarah, who volunteers for the Patient Services Team and the League of Friends. We spend our leisure time working in the garden, hiking on Dartmoor, taking opportunities to spend time with our 6 grandchildren, and travelling (having visited 75 countries together and counting).
I am a Carer for my daughter who has profound and multiple learning disabilities and physical disabilities, subsequently we have had many admissions to Derriford Hospital and have experienced a range of standards of care and communication, some being excellent and some very poor. The Learning Disability Liaison Team have been very supportive and informative during admissions to hospital. I shared my story with the Patient Experience Committee and Trust Board, and from this I was asked if I would consider joining the Patient Council, I thought this would be a great platform to be able to help Carers and people with learning disabilities who use the hospital.
Through this life experience I have learnt a lot over the years and have gained vast experiences as a Carer for someone with many health needs.
I started working for the Care Quality Commission in 2018 as an Expert by Experience and do inspections mainly of Adult Residential Homes for people with severe learning disabilities/challenging behaviour and also Domiciliary Care Providers. This is where I can use my experience and try to make a difference for people with a range of needs where necessary.
I joined the Patient Council in 2018, and want to be a voice and represent the needs of Carers and people with learning disabilities who use the hospital, also for the people who live in East Cornwall, as they make up a third of all patients through the doors of Derriford Hospital.
Being part of the Patient Council enables me to gain a better understanding of how the hospital runs and be able to contribute to discussions and seek to improve the quality of care given to patients and carers.
I want to promote understanding and awareness of people with learning disabilities and carers to all staff who work in the hospital from the bottom to the top and also their awareness of what is contained in the Carer’s Policy including what Carers are entitled to whilst they are in hospital in the caring role, thus enabling them to be supported and promoting their own health and wellbeing. Hopefully this will improve the treatment and support they receive.
I have been involved with the hospital for the last 10 years. My late husband had a heart problem and was admitted to Derriford Hospital. He was an inpatient for twelve weeks , and sadly passed away on Torcross Ward. I became a Hospital Volunteer, due the care and compassion shown to my husband during this time I felt I wanted to give something back.
I joined the Emergency Department as a volunteer once a week. I assit patients with shopping, sit and chat and hopefully leave them with a smile on their faces.
I am also a member of the Royal Voluntary Service and take the library trolley out to the hospital wards.
I serve on several committees and if anyone requires a volunteer I am available to help.
I worked for 40 years as a Catering Manager which helped me when I became involved with the various catering committees within Derriford Hospital.
I have participated in the Patient – Led Assessment of Care Enviroment (PLACE), Nursing Assurance Framework Assessments, been involved in the Making Every Experience Excellent Campaign and also supported The Survey Team when required.
I attend the Trust Board Meetings to keep myself up to date with hospital information. Through my experiences within the hospital feel I am a good representive for patients on the Patient Council.
My interests are:
Carers (I am one)
Reading (which is helpful when attending wards with the library trolley)
Listening (I do this all of the time)
I do help where ever I can in the hospital to give good feedback to improve standards of care and experience for patients.
I was born and brought up in Carshalton Surrey. I have a twin sister, two older brothers and a sister.
I attended Raynes Park High School. As a member of the Boy’s Brigade I was involved in community work, enjoyed camping outings and played for the football team.
My first job was as a forklift driver in a warehouse.
On my seventeenth birthday I was invited to go on holiday with friends. This was to be my first holiday without my parents. On arrival at the holiday camp we decided to go out to a local club. We did not have a car but had met a couple of lads who did; they offered us a lift into town. There were five in the car and unfortunately we were involved in a road traffic accident. Sadly the driver and front passenger died at the scene. My friend and the other passenger were injured but were allowed to go home after a couple of days. Unfortunately I sustained life changing injuries. I was transferred to West Norwich Hospital for eight weeks and then transferred to St Helier Hospital, Carshalton for a further eleven months. It has been 43 years since the accident and I still attend appointments at Derriford Hospital to this day.
I am married to Mary who was a nurse on my ward in 1977 we have been married for forty-one years. We have two children which surprised me as I was told that I might not father children due to the accident. We moved from London to Plymouth in 1987 where I was employed as a bus driver for the Western National Bus/Coach Company. My wife is still nursing; she is a staff nurse working within a specialist dementia unit.
After the accident I was unable to play football anymore so decided to take up running. I have run in half marathons all over the country. My best time was one hour and twelve minutes. This was part of my coping mechanism as I still had to attend hospital appointments. Sadly due to my ailments I am now retired. I also make wooden boats, big warships with all rigging which can take me up to two to three years to complete.
My son is a surfer. My Daughter has just become a professional netball coach; she coaches several teams across Plymouth, mainly Plymouth University.
I became a volunteer after becoming interested when I attended an appointment at Derriford Hospital where the Trust was holding a Volunteers Day Event within the main concourse of the hospital. After gaining further information on how to become a volunteer, I applied and I am now proud to be able to say that I have been volunteering for three years. I am based on Meldon Ward on Thursdays and Saturdays. I assist patients, carers and staff.
My goal is to help people and now I am pleased to be selected to serve on the Patient Council which I am looking forward to.
I am a long-life patient of Derriford Hospital, I was born with a genetic condition called Cystic Fibrosis (CF). Although CF has been challenging, I am lucky to be here today to share my experiences, not only within the hospital, but life experiences too. Despite the difficulties, I have always remained positive, with a be kind attitude, never judging and accepting others. I have witnessed the pressure the hospital staff are under, and I know how it feels to be an inpatient, and the on-going care as an outpatient.
I am a children’s book Author, and I work as a team leader at a community hub in Plymouth. Working with the community is my passion, it’s rewarding to know that the work I do, makes a difference. At the hub, we aim to reduce the feeling of loneliness and isolation, embracing the vulnerable, and make everyone feel welcome. I also love getting involved in community projects within my neighbourhood, dedicating my time as a volunteer to the local area by visiting the community centre and helping where possible.
I chose to volunteer for the patient council to give something back to the NHS, my knowledge with the community, and experience as a patient could make a difference. To be the patients voice, to be heard and to help improve the service a patient receives within the hospital. This means a lot to me due to having a long-term medical condition, not only will it help with the care I receive, but the care of others, and improving the care for the future.
I look forward to working alongside the other members of the Patient Council, to support and develop departments within Derriford hospital