These are Interesting Times: My Reflections On Visiting Downing Street

These are indeed interesting times. Not least of all because we are all expected to achieve more with less. I am one of many thousands of people who signed up to work for the health of this nation. It is a rewarding job. Often it is also a very challenging job. This evening some of us were invited to Downing Street where our efforts were honoured by the Prime Minister, David Cameron.

Today was about acknowledging these challenges but also celebrating the shared ambition to focus on 3 things:

  1. Quality
  2. Diversity & Equality
  3. Leadership

I am by no means an expert on any of the above. But I feel I am in the thick of it when it comes to being part of the drive to promote each and every one of the above points. I am passionate and committed enough to know that to achieve more from less, we need to:

  1. Capitalize on difference (Diversity)
  2. Ensure fairness in all our endeavours (Equality)
  3. Strive for excellence (Quality).

The essential vehicle needed to achieve the above is leadership. The speakers at this evening’s event made a good point when they said that disciplines such as the Military and indeed the Police are very comfortable with the notion of a leader: someone at the helm of the group’s efforts and inspiring through vision and example. In nursing, this is still somewhat a new and novel idea that needs nurturing through developing new nursing leaders who will not shy away from taking their rightful place alongside others striving to improve this nation.

Are you ready to take on this challenge and take up your rightful place?

Mary Seacole Award 2011

OK I will admit it: until 4 years ago, I didn’t know who Mary Seacole was or what she did or indeed what she represents. How ridiculous is it that a woman who saved so many lives and significantly contributed to what we now collectively call nursing – is so poorly acknowledged.

Mary should be in the same league as other outstanding nurses like Florence Nightingale. Sadly 150 years ago, Mary’s non-white heritage meant that she was often met with resistance and sometimes downright hostility, when trying to help people who were in obvious need of any help offered. The hardships Mary experienced whilst trying to do what she loved i.e. nursing people back to health, still resonate today.

One hundred and fifty years later and I am sitting here reflecting on the role I play as a non-white nurse. I have not, by any stretch of imagination, encountered the same obstacles of my ancestors/predecessors as far racial prejudice. But there are still challenges of race to grapple with in my everyday work and more widely at a strategic and organisational level. These challenges require a multitude of exceptional and transformational leadership qualities, in order to transcend prejudices and work towards common goals that transcend race or any other characteristic.

It is well established that people from minority groups generally get short-changed when trying to access services to help them and their families. I and five others have recently (25th October) been awarded the Mary Seacole Award to undertake 6 separate projects to promote equality. This is a great honour for many reasons. Perhaps the most important reason being that this award puts me in a position to do my part in righting wrongs experienced by those who do not always have a voice. This is a very humbling position.

I will try to keep this blog updated over the coming year so as to share my journey as I embark on the Mary Seacole Award project – I hope you join me by posting your comments & views.