The awards form part of the RCN North West’s annual Black History Month event to recognise and celebrate the outstanding contribution of nursing staff either from or in service of those from BAME backgrounds who work in health and social care across the region.
This year’s conference, the theme of which was ‘Anti-Racism: Silence will not protect you’, took place on Tuesday at Limelight Old Trafford, the first time the event has been held in-person since COVID restrictions were first imposed. Hosted by Estephanie Dunn, speakers included Jackie Hanson, Regional Chief Nurse for NHS North West, and Ranjit Kirton, Workplace Behaviour Innovator from The Behaviour Garage, who spoke on the topic ‘Inclusion with Humanity’. Birmingham-based poets Kurly McGeachie and Dreadlock Alien led a poetry workshop which focused on celebrating voices, helping participants speak up and speak out and share lived experiences.
The award winners this year reflected the wide-ranging initiatives being undertaken across a range of settings, including universities, schools and hospitals, in both clinical and non-clinical areas. They were recognised for their commitment to ensuring equity in access to healthcare provision for all and in the promotion and further recruitment of new nurses from the BAME workforce.
Congratulating the six award winners, Estephanie Dunn, Regional Director of RCN North West, said:
‘The winners of our outstanding contribution awards this year are an excellent example of the power of allyship. We are proud to honour the achievements of both those from the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic nursing community and also those who work to address inequalities that this demographic contends with on a daily basis.
‘No one, no matter their ethnicity or place of birth, should be denied the same rights and opportunities afforded to others and there are few places where that disparity is more apparent than in the healthcare sector. Our award winners are testament to some of the fantastic work that is being done to address this and to improve the experiences and outcomes of those who work for or access our healthcare system. Whilst there is always more that needs to be done, we can learn many lessons from the efforts of our award winners and I applaud them all for their achievements.’
The six winners are:
Critical Care Unit EDI team at Salford Royal: Created in May 2022, the CCU EDI team has lead the way in creating an environment of inclusion for all, running monthly events, appointing cultural ambassadors who are involved at every stage of a new recruit’s employment journey and running unconscious bias workshops, which have proved so successful they are now being rolled out across the Trust, the Northern Care Alliance.
As a direct result of the team’s work, there has been a significant increase in BAME staff securing more senior positions, sickness levels have halved and staff turnover has plummeted.
Vanessa Loftus: Nominated by the Deputy Director of Nursing Workforce Development at her workplace at Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Vanessa’s award recognises her outstanding leadership of the Trust’s training hub for the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE), the competency test required of nurses trained overseas when coming to practice nursing in the UK.
Since taking post in 2017, Vanessa has been responsible for guiding over 500 internationally educated nurses through the examination, alongside working with her team to provide 24/7 pastoral care for all their recruits, regularly going the extra mile to help them to feel settled, supported and able to progress in their careers.
Sharon Chakandinakira: An internationally educated nurse (IEN), Sharon is a graduate of the BAME Professional Nurse Advocate course, a training programme which teaches participants to respond to challenges and demands of fellow colleagues, and to lead support and deliver quality improvement initiatives in response.
Nominated by her colleagues at Leighton Hospital, Sharon’s exemplary leadership has boosted recruitment and retention of IENs within her Trust, Mid Cheshire Hospitals, by providing the very high level of mentorship and nurturing required for them to feel settled, supported and able to achieve within their role.
Patience Udonsi: Nominated by her colleagues at the University, Patience, a lecturer in Social Work and Learning Disabilities, is recognised for her dedication to reducing the impact of healthcare inequalities, particularly in those with learning difficulties and people minoritised by their race and ethnicity, working with them to promote improved community participation and integration.
Amongst her many and varied achievements Patience, who is dual qualified as a learning disabilities nurse and a social worker, is responsible for the creation of a number of intervention programmes for people with complex and distressed behaviours, as well as an innovative and highly regarded simulation for nursing and social work students.
Mandy Knowles: Nominated by her colleagues at North Trafford Local Care Organisation, Mandy led an initiative to improve the take up of routine childhood immunisations in a group of schools with historically low parental consent. Analysis of the reasons for the low participation were found to be many and varied, including language barriers at schools with large populations of Urdu, Farsi and Pubjabi speakers.
To address this issue, Mandy created literature in a several different languages to explain the benefits of immunisation and address common misconceptions, as well as hosting a stall at parents’ evenings to directly answer parents’ concerns with the help of interpreters. Take up soared as a result.
The 'Your Future, Your Way' team at Warrington and Halton Teaching Hospitals: Following a review of the Trust’s WRES (Workforce Race Equality Standard) data and in consultation with the Multi-Ethnic Staff Network, the ‘Your Future Your Way’ team was formed to create a bespoke leadership programme to promote career development equity. The team worked to build an understanding of the barriers that nurses, midwives and allied health professional colleagues from ethnic minority backgrounds may face during their career and created a two-part programme designed to encourage allyship and address unconscious bias amongst senior leaders and to foster the career potential and both personal and professional wellbeing of all staff.
The team has seen immediate results from this work, with a very high success rate amongst members of the first cohort going on to secure promotions or secondments, alongside providing a platform for colleagues of different grades and backgrounds to work together and create social networks and connection opportunities.