Kettering General Hospital (KGH) NHS FT have been highlighting initiatives aimed at improving the working lives for BAME staff at their trust. To do this they promoted their BAME Staff Network, and increased the membership from 7 to over 250 last year, after launching several projects to encourage engagement.
Some of the initiatives have included creating a BAME community this year for staff in the form of an online portal, a WhatsApp Group, a Twitter account, and YouTube channel for staff to share concerns, as well as achievements.
Letters have also been sent to management to ensure inclusivity is achieved for BAME staff, with hopes they join the network and committee members in being advocates for the Freedom to Speak Up service.
The network hopes to spark positive change in equality, diversity, and inclusion, aiming for the members to include 50% of all BAME staff at the trust, which has also been supported by the leadership team. Current challenges have been addressed within the trust’s new Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) plan for the year ahead.
Carol Verner, Interim Equality Inclusion & Diversity Manager at KGH, and Co-chair of the BAME network; and Sreejith Nair, Clinical Skills, Dental Skills & Simulation Technician at KGH, and Co-chair of the BAME network; recently won the 2020 Inclusion Award at the KGH awards, for their work relaunching the network, as well as ensuring all BAME staff had a risk assessment, and received the right support during the pandemic.
Carol Verner said: “The hospital recognises that for every individual to achieve their full potential, there must not be any fear of discrimination or prejudice and a belief that career opportunities or work experience is not pre-determined by ethnicity, nationality or colour.
“We’ve worked really hard this year to improve the working lives of BAME staff at the hospital and ensure they are given the recognition and opportunities they deserve. Our BAME network provides a safe and confidential environment for staff to raise any issues and concerns. We’re delighted to have been recognised for our work with the recent award.”
Sreejith Nair added: “This year we’ve seen growing support from senior management and now have a voice on the Board, which is essential for improving the working lives of BAME staff. As a group we are helping the Trust create an inclusive workplace culture, making sure BAME staff feel valued and know they are vital to the success of the services we provide.”
The network also took part in Black History month, by sharing stories and inviting role models within the BAME community to the D&I Trust Board Development Session. Suminthra Naidu, Head of Nursing, Paediatric Services at KGH, and a member of the BAME Staff Network, was one of those involved in this session.
Suminthra Naidu said: “Some of the greatest challenges I have experienced as a senior leader in the NHS has been affiliated to my intersectionality. As a woman of colour, my journey has been challenged by systemic bias and prejudice. There have been times when I would have been the most qualified and skilled professional in an interview process and not secured the job.
“What helped me get through these challenges was my ability to remain humble, kind and stay true to my values. But these experiences also fuelled my ambitions and motivated me to succeed.
“It has taken me 25 years to grow as a leader in the NHS and although my climb up the ladder has been slow the most important thing is that I encouraged myself to grow from these situations.”
Other steps taken include training Diversity Recruitment Champions in order to drive up recruitment. The trained staff will then be able to sit in on the recruitment panels during the entire recruitment process, including the interview stage, and appointing new staff.
KGH are also responsible for running a successful International Preceptorship Programme for qualified overseas nurses, encouraging nurses to come to the UK to train towards their NMC registration.
They form part of the ‘Best of Both Worlds’ recruitment campaign, bringing trusts together, including the University of Northampton; Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS FT; Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust; and Primary Care and St Andrew’s Healthcare.