A Walsall medic recognised for his inclusive efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic by winning a regional Black History Month award has been hailed as a ‘fantastic doctor’.
Dr Oluwafemi Osunlusi, 29, known as Femi, won the Black African/Black Caribbean Frontline Hero (above and beyond during COVID-19) Award at Friday’s Black Country and West Birmingham celebration event.
Former Director of the Workforce Race Equality Standard at NHS England and NHS Improvement, Yvonne Coghill, hosted the event at the Edgbaston Park Hotel in Birmingham.
It was held to reward and recognise the achievements and efforts of Black Caribbean/Black African colleagues throughout the pandemic across six Trusts – Walsall, The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Dudley Integrated Health and Care NHS Trust, Dudley Group NHS Foundation NHS Trust, plus the Black Country and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group.
The award won by Dr Osunlusi, who received a glass trophy, acknowledges someone who has worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to ensure the highest levels of patient care were maintained under extremely difficult circumstances.
Femi, who arrived in the UK from Nigeria in October 2018, has just started in Cardiology after being a Junior Doctor in General Surgery at Walsall Manor Hospital for the past 18 months.
Last year he published a novel, ‘The Burnt Stygian’ based on true events drawn from his own experiences, featuring black doctors and other black members of staff.
He said: “I feel privileged to have won this award and grateful for the colleagues who nominated me. I’m thankful to the judges for their time but also for the Trust for giving me the opportunity to serve.
“I wouldn’t have won this award if it wasn’t for the organisation supporting me and other people of colour to reach their full potential.
“I am also surprised because I wasn’t expecting to come anywhere close to winning – in fact, when I saw the line-up, I said to my wife Marian ‘we have come here for the food – let’s enjoy it!’”
Asked why he thinks he won the award, modest Femi said: “It’s my coloured socks – literally and figuratively. I don’t wear plain socks and it’s the one thing that stands out in every conversation. People also want to connect with me on the basis of my origin.”
Femi is also a Health and Wellbeing Champion and added: “Being a champion is where you make an effort to say ‘Hi, how are you doing?’ which – just like the colour of my socks – goes a long way to putting a smile on people’s faces.
“My opening statement to every patient is ‘Hi, I am one of the good guys’. Sometimes in the business of what we do we forget there’s that human element; that’s what I try to remember and bring to my team.”
BAME Shared Decision Making Council Chair and Matron Joan Dyer said: “I was filled with great pride to see Femi receive the award. He has demonstrated the highest levels of resilience and commitment in providing excellence in patient care at Walsall. We celebrate Femi’s outstanding recognition.”
Senior Sister and Vice Chair Angela Cope said: “Femi is a fantastic doctor, a fantastic person – both inside and outside – he’s a wonderful personality and a very caring person.
“He has helped further equality, diversity and inclusion within the Trust, he is very passionate and excited about driving change and he makes sure no one is left behind.”
FY1 Christina Nikoletopoulou is among those who nominated Femi for the award. She said: “Doing my night shifts, I’ve observed the great manner Femi has with patients – he explains every detail in a very patient-friendly manner and spends time addressing their concerns.
“He’s a hardworking and knowledgeable person who offers very good clinical care and support to his colleagues. He has made the FY1s feel part of the team and has offered useful advice.”
Photo credit: Amlak Tafari – Yellow Wall