Senior NHS staff encourage South Asians to consider a career in nursing on National Careers Week

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Desk report: This National Careers Week, the ‘We Are the NHS’ campaign is highlighting the inspiring stories of senior South Asian staff and the exciting and varied nursing roles available across the NHS.

When Asha Day’s younger siblings were born prematurely, she knew she had to step up to help her mother. “There were always hospital appointments we needed to take the twins to. Despite only being 10 years old, I knew how important a good healthcare system was to their survival,” says Asha. It was this early experience that inspired Asha to join the NHS. She describes how the care, compassion, and kindness shown to her siblings by the NHS nursing team made her want to pursue a career where she could help people too.

Now after 40 years of working as a nurse in the NHS, Asha can’t see herself anywhere else. “I’m currently in a senior nursing role that I never imagined reaching at the start of my career,” says Asha, who is Head of International Recruitment, Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust / Head of Nursing, Midwifery & AHPs Inclusion, LLR ICB. In her day to day role, Asha supports internationally recruited nurses start their career with the NHS. “As part of this, I provide them with clinical training, mentoring, and both emotional and pastoral support,” she says.

Today, Asha is not only in a job she loves but is helping others pursue their dream job at the NHS too. “When I first went into public health, I did notice disparities but there has been a lot of positive change since,” says Asha. “Look at all the fantastic international nurses we now have strengthening our workforce!” she says proudly.

Dr Navina Evans, Chief Workforce Officer at NHS England, agrees. Navina began her career as a psychiatrist within East London Foundation Trust, progressing to consultant psychiatrist, before taking on senior management responsibilities. She worked her way up to clinical director and is now the first Asian woman to lead Health Education England.

Navina sees the task of correcting racial inequality in the NHS as far greater than a mere box-ticking exercise. “Diversifying leadership is a start and repeated studies have shown diverse leaderships often perform better,” says Navina. To be successful in the NHS, Navina believes in building a meaningful connection with patients and staff, engaging with staff at all levels of the organisation and keeping patient care at the core of decision making.

“Nurses are the backbone of the NHS and will always be in high demand” says Navina. “The pandemic has highlighted the need for greater versatility and adaptability within healthcare, and we must prioritise senior nursing roles that will help us plan for the long term. Right now, there’s a great opportunity for people with the right skill-set and values to join the NHS.”

Like Navina, Asha’s family have been extremely supportive of her career. “My family had experienced medical emergencies and understood the importance of nursing so they fully supported my decision as they saw the positive impact I could make,” says Asha, who thinks nursing is a great career option for those thinking about what to do next.

“Patients often remember the nurse; the encouraging words often spoken, and the daily acts of kindness and compassion shown to them has a lasting impression,” says Asha. “The NHS has a range of positions available and plenty of opportunities for you to excel. We are the largest employer in the UK and there is a role here for everybody.”

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