October is Black History Month – a month to recognise and celebrate the rich culture, heritage, and invaluable contributions of Black people to British society and across the globe. This year’s theme of ‘Saluting our sisters’ highlights the achievements of Black women whose accomplishments have too often been overlooked or forgotten. We spoke to Nya, a paediatric nurse at Royal Brompton Hospital and co-chair of the hospitals’ Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) staff network. She sheds light on her role at the hospital, what the month means to her and – homing in on the theme for this year – which woman inspires her the most.
Describe your job role and what you do day-to-day.
I'm a senior staff nurse on the Paediatric High Dependency unit at Royal Brompton Hospital. I look after patients from the age of 0 to 18 and my duties change from day to day depending on the patient’s condition. My day includes monitoring patients’ vital signs, administering medication either orally or intravenously and ensuring patients’ nutritional needs are met. Other duties include supporting patients’ ventilation whether that be invasive or non-invasive, nursing patients with tracheostomies (inserting a tube in the trachea (windpipe) to help with breathing), ensuring they are safe and that the patients/families’ concerns are addressed. At times I can be in charge of the unit and this involves the management of staff, ensuring staff are supported on their shift, facilitating bed management and being involved in senior decisions of patient care by working alongside the multidisciplinary team.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
I love Black History Month; I love seeing the celebration of culture and I love how the Black community is acknowledged and recognised. It truly is an inspiring time and I'm proud to be a Black senior nurse in the NHS.
The theme for this year’s Black History Month is ‘Saluting our sisters’. How have women inspired you in your personal and/or professional life?
The first person to inspire me is my mom. She came to the UK over 30 years ago, not knowing what she was walking into. The move from South Sudan would have been drastic as it's a whole different life, culture and way of living; but she did it and she's done an amazing job raising 4 children by herself. Despite the fact she didn't have immediate family with her in the UK, one thing I love about being from a Black heritage is that you're never alone, you have always got a community of people around you. These people share similar experiences as you and are always there for support. One benefit of moving to such a diverse county such as the UK is that you will always find someone from the same country as you in your city – you are never alone. I love the theme of 'Saluting our Sisters' because my mom is definitely someone who deserves to be saluted; her experience is often something that many Black migrants go through, and their strength and courage can sometimes be overlooked.
One-in-five of the NHS workforce is from a BAME background. How would you sum up the importance and contribution of BAME workers in healthcare and/or at our hospitals?
I feel like it so important to have fellow colleagues who look like you and talk like you, you need to be able to feel seen and not isolated. This not only helps with staff morale and retention, but it also benefits patient care to see a diverse workforce. Being a BAME healthcare professional allows for new innovative ideas to be placed into the frameworks of the NHS and it allows for the core structures of the hospital to be inclusive and diverse.