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Breaking down barriers for Arab NHS staff

2023-08-04T12:59:26+01:00Friday 4 August 2023|
  • Afrah and Ofrah have created the BANMA group

A new group that will focus on supporting Arab Nursing and Midwifery colleagues to have the same career opportunities as others has been created – thanks to the efforts of two leading lights in the Black Country.

Ofrah Muflahi, a Registered Nurse, and her cousin Afrah Muflihi, a Midwife, have formed the British Arab Nursing and Midwifery Association (BANMA) which is set to launch in the near future.

Ofrah is a Non-Executive Director on Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust’s Board and Afrah is the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Lead Midwife for Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust. They have a combined 50 years’ healthcare experience and are united in their aim to ensure Arab colleagues are more visible and thrive in NHS workplaces where they can progress in their careers without facing discrimination.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council only made it possible in 2021-22 for registrants to identify themselves as being Arab. Since then, the numbers have been increasing.

Ofrah, a UK professional lead at the Royal College of Nursing, explained that BANMA wanted to bring British Arab Nursing and Midwifery staff together, find out their most pressing concerns, and work towards solutions.

She said: “Navigating the NHS as an ethnic minority Nurse should have become easier as time has gone on yet there is so much more that still needs to be done – we are a long way off where we should be.

“Whilst I acknowledge that NHS Trust Boards are working to improve culture, tackle racism and drive positive change to develop inclusive environments, this is everyone’s responsibility and BANMA will be an important part of those efforts.”

Ofrah said she and Afrah were also committed to promoting Nursing and Midwifery as careers of choice for Arab communities, particularly among young people.

“Afrah and I were never encouraged to go into Nursing or Midwifery. I became a Nurse because my mother was in and out of hospital so there is also work to be done to attract people into the NHS, whilst being reassured that their experience will be a good one in a supportive workplace.”

Afrah added: “We have both faced different challenges over the course of our careers that relate to our ethnicity, so we have personal experience of the barriers that need to be broken down.

“We are committed to ensuring our colleagues who identify as Arab have the same opportunities as others and that their voices are heard. Our workforce should be reflective of the patients and families we care for who should feel confident that they are safe in the hands of people who understand them.”

BANMA has been awarded small grant funding by the Florence Nightingale Foundation. The group will use this money to help grow its membership and begin its outreach work with the British Arab community.

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