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Kettering General Hospital leads the way in Northamptonshire improving the working lives of BAME staff

During Black History Month[i] Kettering General Hospital (KGH) is highlighting its work to improve the working lives of BAME staff at the hospital and beyond, by promoting its new look BAME Staff Network.

Membership of the network has grown from just 7 to over 250 this year after several new initiatives were launched to encourage engagement. The network is fully supported by the leadership team and BAME issues are being addressed within the trust’s new Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) plan for the year ahead. The network aims to drive positive change that will impact equality, diversity and inclusion and have at least 50% of all BAME staff at the Trust as members.

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, both recently won the 2020 Inclusion Award at the KGH awards for their work relaunching the network and their support in ensuring all BAME staff had a risk assessment and got the right support during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Carol Verner says, “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 adds, “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.”

Initiatives this year include creating an online portal, a WhatsApp Group, a Twitter account and YouTube channel for KGH BAME staff to share concerns as well as achievements; sending a letter to managers in the Trust to ensure all BAME staff are allowed to join and attend the staff network and training committee members to become ‘Freedom to Speak Up’ champions. The network also holds monthly meetings on the last Thursday of every month.

During October’s Black History month, the network shared role model stories with everyone within the Trust through their internal communications channels. One of these is Suminthra Naidu, Head of Nursing – Paediatric Services at KGH, and a member of the BAME Staff Network.

Suminthra Naidu says, “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.

“My advice to others experiencing similar situations is to stay true to who you are, rise above these challenges and champion the change that you are seeking. It is also healthy to talk about this so having a “Person to go to” is so important. Because, only by exploring such situations can you get to the solutions.”

The network is helping to influence recruitment at the hospital by training Diversity Recruitment Champions, who will be able to sit on recruitment panels for the entire recruitment process from selection, interviewing and appointing of new staff.

KGH actively encourages doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers from the BAME community to apply for roles at the hospital. They run a successful International Preceptorship Programme for qualified overseas nurses to come to the UK to train and obtain NMC registration.

For more information about the BAME Staff Network, click here to watch a YouTube video from the employees at Kettering General Hospital.

Kettering General Hospital is part of the ‘Best of Both Worlds’ recruitment campaign, which unites the University of Northampton, Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust, Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (KGH), Primary Care and St Andrew’s Healthcare in recruiting doctors and nurses to relocate and live and work in Northamptonshire.

To find out about other vacancies across Northamptonshire visit http://bestofbothworlds.uk.net/

[i] https://www.blackhistorymonth.org.uk/