Today is International Women’s Day 2022 – a day of celebration and an opportunity for me to thank the women of Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust and The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust for all they do to support their patients and colleagues.
I’m proud to say our organisations value each individual for their skills and talents, irrespective of their gender or any other protected characteristic they may possess.
Surveys led by Unison, the Nursing Times and the British Medical Association in 2021, however, sadly demonstrate that discrimination, harassment and sexism still exist in pockets of the NHS and this year’s International Women’s Day theme of gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow has never been more significant.
We therefore need to be doing everything we can to ensure this behaviour in Walsall and Wolverhampton is addressed, and, should it happen, making it clear it will not be tolerated under any circumstances; challenging it if we encounter it.
Our Equality, Diversity and Inclusions leads are working to ensure staff are given greater access to meaningful equality training (helping to remove unconscious bias and ensure we can continue to operate as a kind and respectful workforce) and continue to raise awareness of the channels whereby staff, and patients, can seek advice and support.
If staff feel unable to raise concerns with their line managers, our staff networks/employee voice groups and Freedom to Speak Up Guardians are available for a confidential conversation. We are also launching a Women’s Health forum where support can be accessed, and we hope this group will afford staff greater opportunity to inform working life and policy.
We need to be kind and supportive to everybody to support people to thrive and be the best possible versions of themselves, and encourage development in whatever way and whatever level that is, so they receive the right opportunities.
Another concern for many women, and men alike, is the balance of work and family life. Flexible working is recognised as being incredibly important for our staff, particularly new mothers and those with young children/caring responsibilities – understanding flexibility with work can support with positive wellbeing and engagement, therefore leading to enhanced patient care.
There have been times in my career where I have worked part-time or flexi-time around children and family commitments. We need to support people to allow them to be successful as well as balance their commitments.
Much like the wider NHS, we are female-dominated organisations but we’re looking to encourage more women into management and leadership roles, as only by doing so can we hope to inspire future generations of strong and powerful healthcare professionals.
We all have people to aspire to and I have my own female role model who works in healthcare – Her Excellency Dr Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari, who is the first female Minister of Public Health in Qatar. I worked for Dr Hanan during my time in Qatar.
She has had a major impact, not just on the health of the nation there, but on the global stage as well, as an international member of the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) of the United States.
And while we’re thinking about how best to support our fellow women, I’d like to draw attention to the recent affairs in Ukraine. Since February 24, tens of thousands of women have fled their homes, leading their children towards neighbouring countries to seek refuge.
Many staff, patients and members of the public have stood up in solidarity with the women and children of Ukraine who are vulnerable, at risk of harm and separated from their loved ones. We can continue to help via donations at various drop-off points to help coordinate donations of clothes, baby items and food:
The Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain’s branch in Wolverhampton
35 Merridale Street West, Wolverhampton, United Kingdom, WV3 0RJ, 01902 420441 / 07801 950588
Eastfield Community Association
Eastfield Community Centre, Colliery Road, Wolverhampton WV1 2QY, 01902 552295
Moseley for Ukraine – Humanitarian aid collection
Wolverhampton drop-off point – shop in the square, upper level (between Matalan and The Works), Mander Centre, Wolverhampton, WV1 3NN
Ukrainian Catholic Church of Saints Volodymyr and Olha
Merridale St West, 300 Hordern Road, Wolverhampton, England, WV6 0HE.
At Walsall, donations of tinned items, toiletries and sanitary items for Ukraine are being collected in the fundraising hub in the Atrium at the Manor Hospital until tomorrow (Wednesday, 12 noon).